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13 February 2018

A little self education about our teeth and gums can help to improve our oral care.

Most of us go through our daily lives following long standing routines; sometimes adjusting them because of advice we have read about diet or exercise. Some of us may even tried some of the dubious ‘natural teeth whitening’ treatments that turn up from time to time on the internet, only to find that they didn’t work (note: they can also be harmful!)

If we could spend just a little time, reading up instead, about the structure and nature of our teeth, it would likely help us to understand how oral health issues can arise, and help us to adjust our lifestyle and cleaning habits accordingly.

Of course, as the dentists at our Surbiton practice know only too well, this can be deeply involved, and it is possible to read thousands of pages about oral health. This is only necessary though, if you wish to pursue a career in dentistry. For the layman, some basic knowledge about the structure of our teeth can be enough to help us look after them better.

Today, we dedicate this Confidental Clinic blog to the structure of the tooth.


This is the hard external part of the tooth that most of us are familiar with. It is the protective part of the tooth that, if kept intact and healthy, prevents problems reaching other parts of the tooth, where more serious problems can arise. Although largely non porous, it is not a solid material but is made up from a number of ‘rods’, each of which have very minute gaps between them. If we look after the enamel, most of the problems that we mention below can be avoided.


The dentin layer lies just beneath the enamel. It is a darker colour and especially so as we grow older. It is often this, rather than staining, that makes teeth appear yellow as we age. The dentin is a porous material and when the external enamel becomes damaged, allowing bacteria to enter, it is likely to start to decay. Because of the porous nature, bacteria is able to enter deeper into the tooth, into the root canals.

Root canals

The root canals of the tooth lie at its very centre. These canals contain tiny blood vessels, along with the nerves that give our teeth their sensation. When a tooth becomes infected, the infection can soon reach the root canals if not treated. Because of the nerves stored here, this can be extremely painful. When an infection occurs in the canals, a root canal procedure will be necessary to try to save the tooth.


Although not a part of the actual tooth, our gum health is important. Gum disease can cause the gums to recede, exposing the less well protected root part of the tooth. Not only can this leave us looking ‘long in the tooth’, but increases the risk of tooth decay and sensitivity.


A healthy jawbone is essential if we want to retain our teeth. Aside from unforseen injuries, it is well protected from damage, except for where early stage gum disease is not treated. If periodontitis occurs, the bone in the jaw may start to slowly disappear. This means that the ‘grip’ on the root of a tooth is weakened, and the tooth may become loose, or even fall out altogether.

As you can see, having healthy  teeth means taking good care of them. This is not difficult, with a little care and attention. If you would like to really get on top of caring for your teeth and gums, we recommend a visit to our Surbiton dental hygienist, who will not only clean your teeth thoroughly but will happily discuss how you can improve the way that you look after your teeth and gums too.

To see the hygienist at the Confidental Clinic, please call us on 020 8399 1291.

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