The Life of a Tooth…
March 04, 2014
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Author’s Note:  The following does not have to happen to you.  Or your teeth.  Brushing, flossing, proper diet, and professional preventive care can save innocent teeth.

The average first molar tooth erupts around the age of six.  This is a time when most kids live off of carbs and milk and juice.  Just what a pristine tooth does not need.  On top of that, few kids brush well enough or long enough.  If caught early, the grooves of these teeth can be sealed by a dentist or hygienist to prevent decay.  Many times, though, the chewing surface of the tooth gets a cavity and must be repaired.  Often, the hole in the top of the tooth extends onto one or more sides of the tooth.  It is likely that at least the front side of the tooth has a flossing cavity because we all know that kids don’t floss.

No worries, a tooth colored filling can usually be done to solve the problem.  Time marches on.

Said tooth has now been in the mouth for fourteen years.  The owner of the tooth is twenty or so and enjoying college life.  Unlimited soft drinks in the cafeteria, late nights studying with coffee or energy drinks, and other various extracurricular activities leave our teen tooth feeling neglected.  Brushing probably occurs relatively frequently, but flossing is most likely lacking.  Decay starts to form around the edges where the filling and tooth meet together.  Or a piece of tooth breaks because of unseen, underlying decay.  Once this new decay is removed by a dentist; a larger restoration must be placed due to a loss of tooth strength.

No worries, a tooth colored crown is placed to protect and secure the tooth.  It is a predictable process.  Time marches on.

If brushing, flossing, diet, and preventive care improve, crowns can last decades.  They often do.  Unfortunately, the habits that caused a tooth to need a crown in the first place sometimes do not change.  Cavities growing underneath crowns can be difficult to see and are rarely felt.  When they cause the crown to break off or begin to be painful, something must be done.

No worries, a root canal can be performed to remove the infected or inflamed, painful nerve tissue.  Our middle aged tooth is then cleaned up and a new crown is placed.  He’s as good as new.  Time marches on.

Next week, we will continue with the dramatic conclusion of the life of our dear friend the first molar tooth.  Until then, keep smiling.

- Please send comments to Drs. Parrish at