Fractured Teeth: Is There More Than One Type of Fracture?

Dentist 1In a 4-Part series we are going to be discussing fractures in the teeth – what they are and how a dentist can repair them.

In order to best understand a problem with a tooth, we need to first understand what a healthy tooth looks like and how it is made up.

So, in Part 1 we will examine the simple anatomy of a tooth.

At the top of a tooth is the enamel, on the crown of the tooth, which we normally see. The second layer is called the dentin, and the third layer inside the tooth is the pulp, or the nerve tissue. Below this point are the roots in the bone.

1. Crown
Most of the tooth is under the surface, like an iceberg. The portion of the tooth that is above the gum line where we can see it is called the crown.

The purpose of the tooth determines the shape of the crown. For example, the crown of a molar is flat, for grinding, and the crown of a front tooth (incisor) is sharp, for cutting.

2. Enamel
The outer, top-most layer of the tooth is called enamel, and again, this is the layer that we see – it covers the crown. Tooth enamel is the hardest and most mineralized tissue in the entire body. At the same time, this enamel can be easily damaged.

3. Gumline
Where the crown of the tooth and the soft tissue of the gum meet is called the gumline.

4. Dentin

This is the layer in the tooth itself that is just below the enamel. Although it is the layer that protects the nerve, it is porous, with millions of microscopic tubes, called dentin tubules, leading directly to the pulp. These tubules are filled with cellular fluid.

5. Pulp
The soft tissue in the center of the tooth is called the pulp, and is where the nerve tissue and the blood vessels are. Tooth decay that reaches the pulp can cause a great deal of pain.

6. Root
The root is embedded in the bone of the jaw, and anchors the tooth to bone. The root makes up two-thirds of the tooth itself.

Take a look at this video where Dr. Mastrovich explains the tooth in detail:

 

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 Dental fractures can occur in various places on the tooth – they can occur in the enamel or down into the dentin, or even deeper. They can occur obliquely, horizontally, or vertically, and they all have different ramifications of tooth pain and its treatment that we’ll talk about in the rest of this series as we go through the various types of fractures.

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Oral Exam for Oral Cancer Screening

Escondido dentistNo single oral exam or oral cancer screening test is proven to reduce the risk of dying of oral cancer. But, did you know that in our office, Dr Mastrovich and our Escondido dental hygiene team screen for oral cancer during all dental and dental hygiene appointments.

During the oral exam, Dr Mastrovich and our hygienists look over the inside of your mouth to check for red or white patches or mouth sores. Using gloved hands, they will also feel the tissues in your mouth to check for lumps or other abnormalities.  In addition to checking inside the mouth, they also palpate the outside of the face and the neck area to check for lumps, bumps, or any abnormalities

Many people have abnormal sores in their mouths, with the great majority being noncancerous and an oral exam can’t determine which sores are cancerous and which are not.

If by chance we do find an unusual sore, further testing may be suggested to determine its cause. The only way to definitively determine whether it is oral cancer is to remove some abnormal cells and test them for cancer in a procedure called a biopsy.

You will be pleased to know that the American Dental Association recommends all adults undergo periodic oral exams when they visit the dentist. The American Cancer Society recommends discussing oral cancer screening, as well, when you visit your dentist. We all have your best interests at heart and strive to keep you as healthy as possible.teeth cleaning

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