The benefits of preserving tooth structure goes beyond cosmetics to impact your overall health. Teeth are part of an intricate network of bones, tissues, and nerves. While they may look straightforward (i.e., a hard surface that grinds down food), teeth have a complex structure. Each tooth is comprised of the following components:
- Gums – Gums house the teeth and protect a tooth's roots and any teeth that have yet to break through.
- Crown - The top, visible part of a tooth.
- Enamel - Enamel is the substance that covers and protects all teeth. Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. Since it doesn't regenerate, preventing tooth decay is critical to keep the enamel intact.
- Pulp chamber - The space inside of a tooth that houses the blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.
- Root canal - The canal provides a passageway for nerves and blood vessels.
- Root - The portion of the tooth located in the bone socket.
- Neck - This area connects the crown and the root.
- Cementum - A hard connective tissue that covers a tooth's root.
- Dentin - A layer of material that lies immediately under the tooth's enamel. When enamel is worn away from a tooth, the dentin becomes vulnerable to sensitivity.
- Alveolar bone - The alveolar bone is the portion of the jaw that encompasses the roots of the teeth.
- Periodontal ligament - A tooth's root is connected to its socket by these tissue fibers.
Lack of Healing Capabilities
A tooth's hard tissues are some of the few in the human body that cannot heal themselves. Because enamel and cementum do not regenerate, if they are lost or damaged, they are gone forever. Dentin, which lies just beneath the enamel, has been found to have some limited regenerative abilities. Further, the pulp, including both nerves and blood vessels, also has a finite capacity to heal. This means that there is a small window of time within which an irritated or inflamed pulp can return to a healthy state.
Because teeth have such limited ability to heal and restore themselves, conserving natural tooth structure is critical. Beyond avoiding the time and money associated with extensive dental work, protecting tooth structure helps with bone health, speech, and appearance.
Maintain Healthy Bone Levels
The longer the natural tooth structure is preserved within the oral cavity, the easier it is for the jaw to maintain a healthy bone level. Natural teeth, held in place by the upper and lower jawbones, essentially work with the alveolar bone. Tooth roots are planted within the alveolar, which reduces bone loss and keeps teeth more stable. Sometimes, when a tooth is replaced with an implant, the implant does not fill the space completely. Your remaining teeth move to fill the space, which changes the overall positioning of your teeth and can lead to a collapse of the bite, known as occlusion. Maintaining a healthy level of bone within the entire jaw reduces the risk of periodontal disease, as disease-causing bacteria can live deep within the alveolar bone and cause further destruction of the teeth.
Speak and Chew Easier
The natural tooth structure allows for better speech, chewing, and swallowing. Though dental restorations allow patients to live normally, nothing fits into an individual's jaw like a natural tooth. Chewing and swallowing food tend to be more comfortable when teeth are natural. Additionally, natural teeth absorb buffers in food and saliva, such as calcium and fluoride ions, which helps to prevent cavities. Patients who preserve their natural tooth structure also maintain a normal biting force. This means they won't have any diet restrictions, whereas certain prostheses may not be able to withstand specific foods.
Preserve Natural Enamel
Beyond helping to maintain jaw structure, nothing beats the look and luster of real tooth enamel. Though restoration materials can closely mimic the appearance of a natural tooth, natural tooth preservation should be your first choice for the best cosmetic and health results.
Schedule An Appointment
If you are struggling with a dental issue and want to preserve your natural tooth structure, contact us to schedule an appointment. Our team will be happy to help you select the best option for your individual situation.