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Tooth Anatomy: Speak Like a Dentist

Nothing is more attractive than a healthy smile. Do you remember the television show “The Swan”? The series would start with a group of women who were at a point in their lives when they could really use a makeover. Every aspect of their appearance was improved, and the contestants were not allowed to see themselves in a mirror until the dramatic unveiling of their new look. Ultimately the woman who experienced the biggest transformation from ugly duckling was voted “the swan.”

The “Swan” contestants underwent procedures from head to toe, including expensive hair treatments, nose jobs, and breast implants, not to mention new clothes and makeup. But what often made the biggest difference of all was the cosmetic dental work they received. Many got flawless white veneers for their teeth, giving them sensational celebrity smiles. The great thing about a fabulous smile is that it always looks terrific. If you pushed Julia Roberts into a swimming pool, her hair would go flat, her makeup would run, and her clothes would get soggy, but she would still be camera-ready with her million-dollar smile. When you have a healthy grin, it’s with you from the moment you wake up in the morning until your last good-night kiss.

At a cost upward of a thousand dollars per tooth, most of us can’t afford perfect veneers, but there is a great deal we can do to take care of the teeth nature gave us. In addition to proper oral care, it comes down to the choices we make about the food we put in our mouths.

The visible part of each tooth is called the crown. The crown is covered with enamel, which is translucent and white. Even though enamel is the hardest substance in the body, it can be eaten away by decay. The stronger your enamel is, the more resistant it is.

The root of the tooth is below the gum line. It makes up about two-thirds of the tooth and holds the tooth in place because it is embedded in bone. Roots are covered with cementum, which helps attach teeth to the alveolar bone (jawbone). Between the cementum and the bony socket of the jawbone there is a cushioning layer called the periodontal ligament.

Under the enamel and cementum of each tooth is the dentin, which is yellow, porous, and harder than bone. Sometimes the color of the dentin shows through the enamel, making teeth look yellow. At the center of the tooth is the pulp, which contains blood vessels and nerves. The pulp nourishes the dentin and is essential to the health of the tooth.

The gums, or gingiva, are the soft tissue around the base of the teeth. The tooth and gums meet at the gum line. Sometimes debris builds up along the gum line, which causes problems. Saliva is crucial to healthy teeth. Saliva maintains the correct pH level in the mouth, and it contains trace minerals to help maintain the enamel of your teeth.


What to Eat (and Drink) for a Sensational Smile
*Keep the inside of your mouth hydrated by drinking water or chewing gum.

*Drink lots of my beauty beverage, green tea.

*Eat plenty of the nutrients you need to nourish your healthy, pink gums and to keep your teeth strong and bright: calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids.

*Eat sticky carbohydrates with your main meals, so the particles will get scrubbed off your teeth.

*Choose snacks that wash easily off the teeth.

*Avoid sipping drinks throughout the day. If you must drink something other than water or green tea, use a straw.

*To keep your teeth their whitest, avoid foods that stain.

*Avoid foods that might break your teeth.

Smoking and Oral Health
There are a thousand reasons to stop smoking, and here is another one: smoking puts you at greater risk of gum disease by interfering with blood flow to the gums. Smoking also is a leading cause of tooth loss, because it disrupts the normal function of gum tissue and the way bone and soft tissue attach to your teeth.

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