A few years ago, I realized that I was thinking about dental care all wrong. Instead of listening carefully to my dentist and making the necessary changes, I assumed that he was ultimately responsible for making sure that my teeth stayed healthy. Unfortunately, I developed a few serious cavities because I failed to properly brush and floss my teeth, and I knew that it was my fault. I decided to start taking notes at my dental checkups and carefully abiding by the dentist's orders. The difference was almost miraculous. This blog is all about working with your dentist to improve your result.
Even though it might not seem like you regularly touch your own teeth, you in fact will do so multiple times each day—although not with your fingers. Consider how often your tongue brushes against your teeth, and this is how you might first notice that something seems a little odd. Why are you feeling sharp edges under your tongue? It's almost as though your teeth have become jagged.
Naturally Jagged Teeth
Even though there are a great number of similarities from one person's set of teeth to another's, your teeth are uniquely yours. Some people simply have naturally jagged teeth. In this instance, you're probably quite accustomed to the sensation. If the sharp edge of your teeth isn't irritating your tongue or impacting the overall functionality of your bite, then no action is needed. Yet if you wish to smooth out your teeth, the methods are the same as when the changes to your teeth have occurred more recently.
Chips and Cracks
A small chip or crack in a tooth can be so minute that you didn't actually notice it happening. The tooth may have broken due to decay, or there may have been improper, unnatural force involved. This can easily be the case when using your teeth for anything other than biting or chewing food, such as opening a bottle or packaging. Your teeth often come off second best when facing off against something of greater strength and density than themselves.
Teeth can similarly become jagged over the course of many months (if not years). Enamel erosion is a progressive condition, generally caused by inadequate oral hygiene. Your mouth hosts a multitude of microorganisms (bacteria). This bacteria reacts to your diet—particularly sugar. This interaction causes these microorganisms to produce lactic acid, which slowly but surely will have a corrosive effect on your dental enamel if teeth are not properly cleaned at least twice daily. As your enamel deteriorates, previously smooth surfaces become jagged.
Whether they were slow to occur, or the result of a sudden chip or crack, dentists have a number of options to correct these jagged edges. Enamel contouring can be utilized, which is when your dentist uses a small handheld bur to smooth out the tooth's surface. This method can only be used when sufficient enamel remains—so that contouring won't leave you with deficient enamel.
Should lack of dental enamel prove a concern, the opposite approach can yield excellent results. Instead of removing anything from the tooth, your dentist will rebuild the tooth using composite dental resin bonding, which is what they used to fill a cavity. Your dentist manually shapes the composite resin on your tooth until it has been restored to its previous dimensions minus those annoying sharp edges. The resin is tooth-colored and is dried instantly using a special curing light.
Jagged edges on a tooth may be an annoyance but can signal a new stage of deterioration for the tooth. When its protective enamel has been compromised, further deterioration of the tooth becomes increasingly likely. So if a tooth should feel suspiciously jagged, it's very important to have it inspected by your dentist.