Ask Not What Your Teeth Can Do For You …

  • January 12, 2016

Have you heard of the “hobbit”? We don’t mean the book by J.R.R. Tolkien or the movies based on that book. We mean the tiny humans who once lived on an island in Indonesia.

Scientists have been studying the teeth of these small people to figure out if they are a separate species than some of our previous human ancestors.

Teeth play a big role in who we are — and were — and they also make a big difference in the quality of the lives we lead.

That’s why we encourage all our patients to practice preventive care both at home and through routine visits to one of the three Beaumont Family Dentistry offices in Lexington.

Keeping your teeth for as long as possible improves your quality of life. Unfortunately, it’s easy to take our teeth for granted until it’s too late and we’ve lost some or all of them.

What Your Teeth Do For You

You can tell by looking in your mouth that your teeth are different. This is because your different kinds of teeth have different functions inside your mouth.

This is another reason it’s important for you to take care of your teeth. Losing just one can affect how well your mouth can do the things it does for you.

Your incisors are the teeth at the front of your mouth. When you smile, these are the ones that other people are most likely to see. They are also the teeth you usually use to bite into your food. Coincidentally, they are the first teeth to erupt when you are a baby.

To the sides of your incisors are your canines. If you were a vampire, these would be your fangs. Canines are pointier than your incisors, and they are used to rip and tear your food.

Bicuspids, sometimes referred to as premolars, assist with chewing and grinding your food. The are located to the sides of your canines.

Molars are the primary teeth used to chew and grind. When you have a chewier piece of food, you move it to the back of your mouth (probably without thinking) because these are the teeth best suited to break that food apart.

Your wisdom teeth are the last ones to come erupt. For our ancestors (like the “Hobbit”), this last set of molars helped them grind and chew the foods in their diets.

Modern humans don’t have the need for these extra teeth because of our softer diets. That’s also why dentists recommend removing wisdom teeth if they appear to be causing problems for your other teeth.

What You Can Do For Your Teeth

As you can see, your teeth aren’t interchangeable parts. Each kind of tooth has a specific role to help you bite and chew your food, which is the start of the digestive process.

This is why you should do everything you can to keep your teeth healthy and intact.

This starts at home with your oral hygiene routine. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. Use a fluoride toothpaste with a soft-bristled brush, and scrub your teeth on all sides.

This removes the bacteria that causes plaque, which can lead to tartar, tooth decay, and gum disease.

You also should floss once per day. Flossing allows you to clean the places that you can’t reach with your toothbrush, specifically, between your teeth and between your teeth and gums. Again, you are trying to remove bacteria and plaque from your mouth.

If you aren’t sure that you are flossing correctly, feel free to ask us questions. We’ll be happy to demonstrate proper techniques. If you have trouble using dental floss for any reason, we also can recommend other interdental devices to help clean those harder to reach places.

The third thing you should be doing is coming to Beaumont Family Dentistry every six months to have your teeth professionally cleaned. Our hygienists will remove any plaque or tartar that you may have missed, and watch for signs of gum disease. Early detection goes a long way toward effective treatment, if any is needed.

What’s Good For Your Teeth Is Good For You

As people have become more civilized, our diets have changed. One thing that is still the same is that we need our teeth to eat the foods the provide the nutrients we need to survive.

Every day, we need to make time to care for our teeth so they can keep working for us. Brush, floss, and make an appointment for a cleaning at any Beaumont Family Dentistry office in Lexington if you haven’t already.

You can reach any of our offices by phone or by going to page for the office closest to you to make an appointment online.

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