Dental Education Lecture: Please Keep Your Back Teeth





When we are young, we may not take care of our teeth.  If we have severe toothache in the back, we usually like an easy way, take it out.  Because it does not affect our appearance.  Nobody can see it.  In fact, this is a bad beginning.  Next time we have toothache, one more back tooth is gone.  Several years later, we might lose several of them and have to chew in the front.  Our front teeth are relatively skinny and cannot bear much chewing force.  One day one of the front teeth may be chipped.  By that time, we may lose one of them and our appearance will be jeopardized.

The following is a typical example.  Early this morning, a 77-year-old lady came to office for emergency.  She had a chipped tooth in the front (Fig.1 (tooth model) arrows).  It did not look too bad.  We are usually able to fix it.   However, it looked more severe from biting view (Fig.2 black arrows).  The front tooth was split into the two halves.  The small one was dangling from the gums.  When we look at the bottom of Fig.2, we may find out that four of back teeth (molars) are missing (red arrows).

Anyway, the senior agreed to take the chipped tooth out.

Fig. 3 shows the extracted tooth from biting surface as Fig.2.  Let us look at the side view of the tooth (Fig.4): with the root (R) on the top and the crown on the bottom.  The white arrow and white No.1 point to the crack line, whereas the black arrows direct against the junction between the root and crown.  It is understood that the crack line extends underneath the gums (which attach to the root), causing excruciating pain when the patient chews.

Do you need to take better care of your teeth and try to keep the back teeth as much as possible?

Xin Wei, DDS, PhD, MS 1st edition 08/25/2009, last revision 08/27/2009