What Are Molars?
Molars are teeth in the back of your mouth that are responsible for crushing and grinding food into smaller pieces to swallow. They also have a set of elevations or points (called cusps) that are used for breaking up food particles.
The primary dentition comprises 20 teeth, including four incisors, two canines, and four molars in each jaw. Your adult molars (also known as premolars or bicuspids) replace the eight baby molars. Read boca Dental and Braces to learn more.
Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth produce acids that attack and break down tooth enamel. This damage can lead to a hole in the tooth, called a cavity. Tooth decay can be prevented with regular oral and dental care, a healthy diet, and visits to the dentist for professional cleanings and oral exams.
Tooth decay is most often caused by a combination of eating sugary foods and drinks and not brushing and flossing regularly. As the bacteria in plaque consume the sugars, they release acids that attack and break down the enamel of the teeth. If left untreated, the weakened enamel can allow bacteria and food to enter the tooth’s pulp, causing pain and infection.
Early stages of tooth decay may not cause any symptoms, which is why it is important to see your dentist for professional cleanings and oral exams twice a year. Your dentist can spot the earliest signs of tooth decay, including white patches or brown spots on the teeth and holes in the teeth (dental cavities).
As the cavity progresses, it will continue to grow until it reaches the dental pulp. This causes a toothache, which can be very painful and may need to be treated with antibiotics such as ibuprofen or paracetamol. The dentist can also recommend a root canal treatment to clear the infected area and restore the tooth with a filling or crown.
Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice daily and after every meal to help prevent tooth decay. Floss or use an interdental cleaner such as the Reach Stim-U-Dent or Sulcabrush, and rinse daily with a mouthwash that contains fluoride. Limit snacking between meals and try to avoid sugary snacks, as these will give the bacteria in the mouth more sugars to convert into acids. Ask your dentist about supplemental fluoride treatments, which strengthen teeth, and dental sealants, which are plastic protective coatings that can be applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars), where decay often starts to help prevent cavities. In addition, be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Wisdom teeth are the molars that come through last and furthest back in your mouth, typically in your late teens or early 20s. Some people do not have wisdom teeth, or they may be impacted (wisdom tooth comes through at an improper angle and pushes against adjacent molars).
Overcrowding or impaction can cause problems such as pain, bad breath, impacted gum tissue, and decay. It is a good idea to have troublesome wisdom teeth removed by an oral surgeon while you are still young. Wisdom teeth are easier to remove when the roots are still forming, and the bone is softer. This procedure is generally much less traumatic than having it done later in life.
After a wisdom tooth extraction, you will likely experience discomfort, which can be alleviated with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Swelling is also common, but this usually subsides within a few days. You can minimize postoperative pain and swelling by rinsing with warm salt water or antimicrobial mouthwash and by following the instructions your dentist gives you about diet, sleeping positions, and avoiding activities that can dislodge the blood clot that forms over the extraction site.
During the removal process, you will be given a local anesthetic that will numb your gums and lower parts of your face. For a few hours after the surgery, it is best to avoid hard, crunchy, or chewy foods, as these can damage healing gums and increase your risk of complications such as dry sockets.
Before you have surgery, discuss your health history with your oral surgeon. It is important to know if you have a medical condition that could interfere with surgery, anesthesia, or recovery, such as a bleeding disorder, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or depression.
On the day of your procedure, it is a good idea to have a friend or family member accompany you to the office and stay with you for the rest of the day. You will need someone to drive you home and watch for signs of nausea, confusion, or unconsciousness after surgery. You will be provided with a prescription for medication and a list of instructions for recovery.
Most molars contain highly vascularized dental pulp that nourishes and hydrates tooth structure to prevent brittleness and fracture from chewing hard foods. Pulpitis, a condition in which the pulp becomes inflamed and swollen, can also cause pain that radiates to other parts of the mouth and jaw. Occasionally, pulp infection can manifest as a pimple-like bump on the gum (fistula), indicating that pus, blood, and infectious materials are trying to escape through the tooth’s surface.
Root canals can save teeth from painful and expensive infections that may lead to serious complications, such as bone loss. Unlike a simple filling, a root canal procedure removes the entire nerve inside a tooth. This makes the tooth feel drier and brittle than before, so it’s important to protect the tooth with a filling or crown.
During a root canal, the dentist will numb the tooth and the area around it using local anesthetic. They will then put a sheet of rubber (a dental dam) around the tooth to keep it dry and free from viruses, bacteria, and fungus that would normally enter through saliva during treatment. The dentist will then drill an opening into the tooth to gain access to its infected tissue. Small dental files are then used to clean out the tooth and its root canals, which are tiny pathways that carry blood, nerves, and other tissue through a tooth’s center. A root canal is completed with a disinfecting solution, germ-killing medicines, and a rubber-like material called gutta-percha to seal the tooth against future infections.
It’s important to understand that a root canal will not save a dead tooth. A dying tooth is already infected, and root canal therapy removes the infected tissue, leaving only the brittle outer shell of the tooth. If a dead tooth is not replaced with a filling or crown, it will eventually break. If you have a dead tooth that requires a root canal, talk to your dentist right away.
Dental implants are a permanent solution to missing teeth. They are anchored in the jawbone with titanium posts and provide support for artificial crowns that look and function like natural teeth. They can also help prevent bone loss in the jaw, and they are more durable than traditional dentures.
A person’s general oral health is one of the main factors in determining whether they can receive an implant. If there is an infection or a disease in the mouth, it may affect the strength and quality of the implant. Additionally, if an implant is not cared for properly, it can damage adjacent teeth or the jawbone.
Before an implant is placed, a person should make sure to get a list of all medications they are taking, including over-the-counter and prescription medications. They should also talk to their dentist or oral surgeon about a plan for post-implant maintenance. It is important to follow this plan to ensure the best results.
Once an implant is placed, the person will need to wait for some time to allow the implant to fuse with the jawbone. This is a process called osseointegration and can take months. In the meantime, the person should eat soft foods and avoid anything that requires biting or chewing forcefully. If they experience pain or sensitivity, they should book an appointment with their dentist to make sure that the implant is settling correctly.
Another benefit of replacing a missing tooth is that it helps to keep other teeth straight and prevents them from shifting or misaligning. This can also improve the ability to enunciate and make speech easier. In addition, the implant will help to keep the face looking full, which can prevent a sunken appearance. Unlike other solutions, such as bridges, dental implants replace both the root and crown of the missing tooth. This makes them more durable than other options and gives the implant a more natural look and feel. It is also easier to maintain and clean than a traditional denture. It is easy to brush and floss the area around the implant, and it can be treated just like a natural tooth.