Information for Patients
What are teeth?
Your teeth are made of a hard, bonelike material. There are four parts:
- Enamel, your tooth's hard surface
- Dentin, the hard yellow part under the enamel
- Cementum, the hard tissue that covers the root and keeps your teeth in place
- Pulp, the soft connective tissue in the center of your tooth. It contains nerves and blood vessels.
You need your teeth for many activities that you may take for granted. These include eating, speaking and even smiling.
What are tooth disorders?
There are many different problems that can affect your teeth, including
- Tooth decay - damage to a tooth's surface, which can lead to cavities
- Abscess - a pocket of pus, caused by a tooth infection
- Impacted tooth - a tooth did not erupt (break through the gum) when it should have. It is usually wisdom teeth that are impacted, but it can sometimes happen to other teeth.
- Misaligned teeth (malocclusion)
- Tooth injuries such as broken or chipped teeth
What causes tooth disorders?
The causes of tooth disorders varies, depending on the problem. Sometimes the cause is not taking good care of your teeth. In other cases, you may have been born with the problem or the cause is an accident.
What are the symptoms of tooth disorders?
The symptoms can vary, depending on the problem. Some of the more common symptoms include
- Abnormal color or shape of the tooth
- Tooth pain
- Worn-down teeth
How are tooth disorders diagnosed?
Your dentist will ask about your symptoms, look at your teeth, and probe them with dental instruments. In some cases, you may need dental x-rays.
What are the treatments for tooth disorders?
The treatment will depend on the problem. Some common treatments are
- Fillings for cavities
- Root canals for cavities or infections that affect the pulp (inside of the tooth)
- Extractions (pulling teeth) for teeth that are impacted and causing problems or are too damaged to be fixed. You may also have a tooth or teeth pulled because of overcrowding in your mouth.
Can tooth disorders be prevented?
The main thing that you can do to prevent tooth disorders is to take good care of your teeth:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- Clean between your teeth every day with floss or another type of between-the-teeth cleaner
- Limit sugary snacks and drinks
- Don't smoke or chew tobacco
- See your dentist or oral health professional regularly