A beautiful woman with a happy, healthy smileOur mouths are like jigsaw puzzles, where each tooth is a piece, and our smile is the whole picture. When you fix puzzles, you need every piece if you want to complete the picture. Sure, you can finish a puzzle while missing a piece or two and still know what it should look like, but your eyes will be drawn to the missing pieces that take away from the aesthetics. Puzzle pieces that are broken or discolored take a similar toll on the beautiful landscape or basket of puppies assembled by all of those pieces. Puzzles look best when all of the parts are present and in good shape.

Similarly, when you have broken, stained, or missing teeth, you may feel embarrassed by your smile because it is no longer aesthetically pleasing. Your smile is not the only thing impacted by lost or damaged teeth. Each tooth serves a specific purpose in your mouth. If one is missing, the structure and function of your mouth is compromised. When it comes to fixing or replacing teeth in your mouth, details matter for more than just aesthetics.

Teeth and Their Functions

Replacing or crowning teeth starts with taking a mold or three-dimensional image of the tooth, depending on how we are making the crown. If we are sending it to the lab, we will often take a mold, but if we are using CEREC to make your crowns in our office, we will avoid the impression material and take a digital picture.

Your new tooth will need to fit comfortably in your mouth without changing the alignment of your bite or causing grinding. If a tooth doesn’t fit right, it could lead to complications like TMJ. Generic tooth shapes cannot be used because every person’s teeth are unique to their mouth, and each tooth in the mouth serves its own function.

Incisors, the front eight teeth in the mouth (four on top and four on bottom), are designed to cut and tear food into smaller pieces that are easier for our bodies to break down. These teeth support the lips and face, help you pronounce things clearly, and guide your jaw when you close your mouth. On either side of the incisors are the canines (two on top, two on bottom), often called the cornerstone of the dental arch because they are the beginning of the curve leading to the back teeth. Shaped like fangs, canines are our sharpest teeth and help rip and tear food, aid in speech, and support our lips and face. As the longest teeth, canines are often used to anchor prosthetic teeth.

Behind the canines are the eight premolars (four on top and four on bottom), often called bicuspids because most of them have two rounded edges, or cusps. Not only do these teeth help with tearing and grinding of food, but also aid in speech. Premolars also help support facial muscles, keeping the corners of your mouth from sagging inward. The back of the mouth houses the molars. People usually grow twelve molars (six on top, six on bottom), but it is common for the last four molars that develop (wisdom teeth) to be removed due to crowding. Molars grind food, and play a vital role in supporting your cheeks and keeping your face looking full and vibrant. They play a small role in speech as well.

Keeping the Puzzle Together

Replacing missing teeth is important for supporting your whole facial structure together, and to help with speech. Likewise, it is important to repair damaged teeth and, in many cases, protect them with crowns to shield the tooth from further decay or damage.

To replace missing jigsaw puzzle pieces, you wouldn’t grab a piece from another puzzle and jam it in to fill the holes. Doing so would alter the picture. The same goes for fixing and replacing teeth. Not only would it look strange to have a canine or incisor shaped replacement tooth in with your molars, but it would also be impractical for the function of those teeth. Although they may seem purely aesthetic for revitalizing your smile, these details are important for the overall health and functionality of your mouth.

If you are interested in learning more about treatment options for your damaged or missing teeth, please call (845) 627-7645 for an appointment at B & D Dental Excellence in West Nyack.