All posts by Dental Oasis

class is in session - dental 102

Class is in Session! – Dental 102

class is in session 2

Welcome to Dental 102, your next class on brushing up on your dental knowledge! We previously studied arithmetic, history, health and fitness, and science and are now moving on to cover more topics today. Please have a seat at the front of class. We hope you brought your pencil!



In the adult mouth there are a total of 32 teeth.  Focusing exclusively on the upper teeth, you’ll notice that there are four incisors located in the center front.  Next to them are two canines followed by four premolars, and finally in the back there are six molars.  The very last four teeth, the wisdom teeth, are sometimes removed for various reasons.


Our teeth have different shapes and sizes to fit their function.  Incisors are thin and sharp like a hatchet and their function is to cut or tear food into smaller pieces.  The canines grip and tear food while chewing, the premolars tear and crush food, and the molars chew, crush, and grind food.  The different shapes and sizes all work together to take a larger bite of food and break it down into smaller, more manageable pieces before being passed on to the digestive tract.


A child’s mouth is a little bit different from an adult’s in that they only have 20 primary teeth.  The upper arch has four incisors, followed by two canines, and lastly four molars.  The lower incisors are usually the first to erupt in a baby at around six months of age.  The first adult teeth to come in are the incisors at around six to seven years old.

Potential Issues

Once adult teeth start coming in, be sure to be careful and brush the newly erupting teeth.  When a child has both primary and adult teeth in his mouth, it creates a rugged terrain and can be difficult to brush.  If care is not taken to keep the newly emerging adult teeth clean, problems can arise down the road such as snow capping.  This is when adult teeth develop white tops like the tops of snow covered mountains and this condition is usually caused by bacteria sitting on those teeth for long periods of time without being cleaned off.

Physical Education

Staying in Shape

Make sure to get and keep your mouth in shape.  You can do that by visiting your dentist, Dr. Dewell, every 6 months for your biannual checkup.  While there, you will get your cleaning done to keep your teeth feeling great and looking even better.  If there are any concerns you have that have arisen since your last checkup, let Dr. Dewell know and she will gladly help you discover what can be done.

Your day to day routine should include brushing twice per day using the proper brushing technique at home.  This will keep your teeth feeling fit and ready to give you their best.


Did you know that the teeth are the strongest bone in the body?  What makes them different from say, the femur in your leg, is that teeth are made of calcified tissue called dentine.  The dentine is covered with enamel, which is what you see when smiling in the mirror.  Bone is made from mostly the same materials as teeth but is primarily made of collagen.  Collagen is a living protein in bone that allows for flexibility while under stress.  The outside of bone is composed of periosteum, a substance containing osteoblasts, a specialized type of cells which help to make repairs should you fracture or break a bone.  You won’t find a dentist placing a splint on a cracked tooth as teeth do not contain osteoblasts, and therefore they have no way to enable your teeth to repair themselves.

Check Your Dental Homework

Homework Assignment

Double check that you are brushing properly.  Using a soft bristled toothbrush, place the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to the gums.  Make short, gentle brushing motions to clean the outside facing surfaces of your teeth.  The chewing surfaces of your teeth usually have grooves that tend to trap food.  Be sure to clean those carefully as you do not want to leave food and bacteria in those decay-prone areas.  Lastly the inner sides of the teeth facing the tongue needs brushed too.  If it is too difficult to brush the front teeth on the inner side, try using up and down motions with your toothbrush as that may be easier.

Follow up

Concerned that you are not getting all the surfaces of your teeth clean?  Ask your dentist if she recommends any dye tablets, swabs, solutions, or floss.  All of these items allow you to check how well you are brushing and show you if you have missed any plaque on your teeth.  Plaque is a clear, sticky buildup that forms on your teeth that you want to brush away.  The plaque disclosing products contain a harmless dye that reacts with plaque and shows areas you missed in your normal brushing routine.  You can then go back and fix those areas and know to watch those areas next time.

Your Plaque Score

There is a way of tracking progress over time using what is called a plaque score.  First brush as normal, then chew up the dye tablets.  You will measure 6 teeth in your mouth for plaque.  If there is no plaque on a tooth surface you are measuring, give yourself zero points, if 1/3 of the tooth surface is covered with plaque, give yourself one point.  1/3 to 2/3 covered with plaque gets two points, and more that 2/3 gets three points.

Check these teeth:

  • -A lower central incisor on the cheek side surface.
    -An upper central incisor on the tongue side surface.
    -The upper right first molar on the cheek side.
    -Upper left first molar on the tongue side.
    -Lower right first molar on the tongue side.
    -Lower left first molar on the cheek side.

Total your scores up and if you get 0-3, you are doing great!  4-7 is still good, 8-11 is fair, and 12 and above needs work.  Try to measure a plaque score weekly on the same day and approximately same time so you can see how well you are doing with your brushing.

Social Studies

If you’ve liked your education here today, feel free to let us know what you think in the comments or catch up with us on Twitter or Facebook!


Previously: Class is in Session! – Dental 101

blackboard class is in session

Class is in Session! – Dental 101

blackboard class is in session

School has already started for some of us and is almost starting for some others.  Now is the time to refresh your dental knowledge and get prepped for the start of a new school year!  Take a seat at the front of class!


Did you know more than 50% of uninsured and 30% of insured Americans skip necessary dental care visits?  Those number are over a period of twelve months and financial concerns are the main cause of those skipped appointments.  That’s an alarming amount.  If you have dental insurance, you should realize most dental insurances completely pay for your cleaning and checkups twice per year.  Check your policy, it should clearly spell that out for you.

Did you know that almost 75% of Americans suffer from some type of gum disease and don’t even know it?  Even people with a low risk of oral disease benefit from an annual cleaning.  If you do not have dental insurance, check your medical insurance to see if you have dental coverage.  Sometimes you’ll find you have coverage there that you are already paying for.  Also, many people may not know this but there are options to consider for paying for needed treatment too.  Check with your dental provider to see if they offer payment plans, CareCredit, or some other payment options.  At Dental Oasis in McCordsville, we make it as easy as possible for you to get the treatment you want and need.


Records dating back as far as 5000 BC show how our dental knowledge has come along.  The first “dentist” named Hesy-Re, an Egyptian, lived around 2600 BC.  We gathered this history from inscriptions left on his tomb.  Then came Aristotle and Hippocrates who wrote about the eruption patterns of teeth and the treatment methods for problematic teeth back in 500-300 BC.  During the middle ages, the first book written solely on dentistry was authored by Artzney Buchlein.  It covered the general dental knowledge of that time.  During the Revolutionary War period, Paul Revere performed the first known case of post-mortem dental forensics.  He identified a dental bridge he had made for a friend who died in the Battle of Breed’s Hill.  In the late 19th century, x-rays were discovered and the first dental x-ray was taken.  Later, in 1938, the first nylon toothbrush made of synthetic materials became available to purchase. Fluoridation of water and toothpastes came about a few years later too.  Just before the start of the 21st century, home tooth bleaching became available.  Its amazing how far we’ve come along!

Health and Fitness

Eating a well-balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise has always been something to strive to do.  There are a variety of foods that are good for your teeth and some that are bad.  Foods such as cheese, nuts, yogurt, apples, celery, carrots, and leafy greens all do wonders for your teeth.  Cranberries, garlic, probiotics, and ginger are some examples of foods and nutrients that help your gums too.  These are all great things to make sure you are including in your diet.  Be sure to watch out for things that are bad for your mouth though.

Foods to limit in your diet:

-Sticky candy
-ice (chewing it)
-bread (which is sticky)
-soda containing lots of sugar
-soda with a low pH such as Mountain Dew
-coffee and tea (which often have sugar added and can stain teeth)
-starchy potato chips

Be sure to floss and brush after eating and try to stick with water as a healthy choice of beverage.


Bacteria is always present in your mouth eating away at sugar and producing acid as a by-product.  When acid sits on your teeth, it dissolves minerals in your enamel.  This is what happens when you have tooth demineralization.  Demineralized teeth are much softer and weaker and thus are more prone to getting cavities.  The bacteria are able to get further and deeper into demineralized teeth.  This is why we stress the importance of brushing at least twice a day.  You should brush once in the morning after breakfast and again before bed.  Brushing and flossing after eating removes the food caught in and around your teeth.  This keeps the bacteria’s food source away to prevent acid from forming on your teeth.  It is especially important to brush and floss before bed.  You usually sleep around eight hours a night and during that time there is decreased saliva flowing around your mouth.  Without that saliva, acid cannot be washed away or neutralized and it is the perfect time for bacteria to feed.  Be sure to brush twice a day to keep the acid away!

Next Class – Dental 102!

picture of tooth fairy

The Tooth Fairy Visits

The tooth fairy has long been a part of numerous childhood milestones.  Many children eagerly anticipate the loss of their first tooth.  The thought of  catching a glimpse of her leaving money behind is sure to bring joy to any child’s heart.  The parents though can face a slightly more complex emotional roller coaster ride.  As a dentist and a mother, the loss of my son’s first tooth gave me pure excitement.  On the other hand, it was bittersweet for me as it was a reminder that my son was inevitably growing up.   With one glimpse of that toothless smile, it reassured me that this was all part of the process and he, more than I, was going to be okay.


Now as monumental as it can be to lose your first tooth as a child, I believe it to be more memorable as an adult.  While I cannot remember the loss of my first tooth, I can remember my son’s.  It happened at Steak ‘n Shake on the last day of kindergarten when all his other classmates had lost their first tooth and he was feeling all but left behind.  On that most fateful day, he had finally joined the club.  Now this small boy with his giant smile holding his small tooth in his hand is looking up at me.  So naturally thoughts and dreams of the tooth fairy’s arrival were entertained.  Would she bring treasure, money, or floss?  Would she be thin, or plump, or old, or young?  Does she make her way through the window or come through the door?  Above all else, what would she do with my tooth?   My son’s experience is not unlike millions of other children who leave their teeth under their pillow in hopes that the tooth fairy would leave them something in return.  For some, they find money that can range from change to dollars.  For others, it is a toothbrush or even floss.  In some countries like Mexico, there isn’t even a tooth fairy!  A mouse is what these children will fondly remember.  Either way, the magic of the first lost tooth lies in the heart of the child and parent as a memory for both of them to share forever.

When will my children lose their teeth?

For all children, this process will happen a total of twenty times.  Although all teeth might not be lost naturally, they will be lost at some point in their lives.  Some might have been removed due to decay and infection, some due to trauma, still others lost due to crowding.  With each lost tooth it marks the passage of time and creates a pattern of the child’s dental age.  The first tooth typically lost is the lower or upper incisors around 6 to 7 years of age.  The lateral incisors come out around 7 to 8 years old.  The canines follow between the ages of 9 to 12.  The first molars around 9 to 11 and the second molars from 10 to 12.  Not all teeth follow this pattern, but dependably, for most children it will.

What causes teeth to fall out anyway?

After the first group of teeth fall out, it is not long before the permanent teeth start to erupt.  After all the reason that the baby teeth fall out in the first place is because the permanent teeth that have been lying dormant under the gum tissue this entire time, have been pushing up against the roots of the baby teeth causing the roots of the baby tooth to melt away.  With little to no root left, the baby tooth starts to get loose.  When the tooth finally comes out usually there is very little root structure and sometimes they can be quite sharp depending on how the permanent tooth melted away the root.

Don’t go in the water

Now sometimes the permanent tooth starts to come in prior to the loss of the baby tooth.  Lots of parents worry that their child has what they call “shark teeth” (I actually had a dad jokingly refer to his son as Jaws once).  You’ll even find the lower permanent teeth can come in behind the baby teeth too.  Don’t worry as this is very common and not too concerning.  Generally, normal functions like eating and talking will push the permanent teeth forward without cause for worry.  You will also see teeth that start coming in toward the back of the mouth as well.  These teeth are the six year molars and they are a set of teeth that are NOT replacing baby teeth.  Throughout childhood, it will seem as though you see teeth falling out all over the place!  In fact, this is exactly what happens and this process will continue until all twenty teeth are lost.  Now not everyone will have their teeth come in perfectly straight.  That’s an entirely different discussion for another time though.  In this case, these children will require DUN…DUN…DUN…BRACES!!!  If there is ever any concern, feel free to give us a call at 317-336-8478 (DENTIST) and we can investigate what is going on in your child’s mouth.

The maker of memories

Many people fondly remember the tooth fairy in their lives.  A child’s thoughts of her coming with whatever gifts she brings one warm and cozy night can be a good reminder that not all change needs to be stressful, but that it can also be eagerly anticipated.  After all, we’ve all seen that one child up that next morning with money in one hand and fervently moving their next “wiggly” tooth in the other.  As parents we need to take in these moments and enjoy them while we can, as they do grow up fast.


More reading: Class is in Session! – Dental 101

rotation-oscillation toothbrush

Manual vs Electric Toothbrushes

rotation-oscillation toothbrushes

Many of us have grown up using regular manual toothbrushes to clean our teeth daily.  Over time a variety of toothbrush design changes and options have become available.  For instance, a specialized toothbrush was created to better reach the back molar teeth and more effectively remove plaque in that area.  This was accomplished by simply angling the handle inward around two thirds of the way down the toothbrush.  Violá, that simple change gave us better hygiene!  Another innovation was the addition of blue colored indicator bristles.  With use, the blue color gradually wears away alerting you when it is time to change to a new toothbrush.  Now we have options for battery-powered electric toothbrushes and even toothbrushes that are “smarter”.  They can give us information on our smartphones about how well our best efforts are doing at cleaning our teeth.

The motion of cleaning your teeth

First let’s take a look into the methods toothbrushes use to clean your teeth.  There are two different ways electric toothbrushes clean your teeth which include vibration and rotation-oscillation.  A toothbrush that uses the vibration method of cleaning your teeth uses a back and forth mechanism.  A toothbrush using the rotation-oscillation method does the just the same as the vibration but adds a circular motion.  This helps to mimic how you would manually brush your teeth.

How fast is it moving?

Next, the speed that the toothbrush bristles move is something to consider when choosing which toothbrush to use.  Electric toothbrushes deliver thousands of brushing strokes per minute, while a manual toothbrush delivers only around 300 strokes per minute.  That’s a dramatic difference, but don’t let that fool you though.  The manual toothbrush can be just as effective as using a power toothbrush, if used correctly.

Correct brushing technique

Today’s electric toothbrushes can be a real benefit to those who may lack the knowledge for proper brushing.  The technique you use is the key factor for getting your teeth as clean as possible.  You should brush for at least two minutes using the toothpaste you prefer.  Try using short, gentle strokes to be sure to clean all surfaces of your teeth.  Be sure to  pay attention to the gum line and hard-to-reach back teeth.  Angle the toothbrush 45 degrees towards the gumline while brushing.  This will be sure to keep both the tooth and gums healthy.  Also, make sure to brush twice a day!

Smart toothbrushes

Electric toothbrushes provide us with the proper movement needed to clean our teeth.  Many electric toothbrushes now come with a built-in 2 minute timer to encourage brushing long enough to achieve a thorough cleaning.  The latest electric toothbrushes even have apps that work with your smartphone.  The apps can give you instant feedback if you are brushing too hard.  They can also tell you if you need to spend more time in one section of your mouth.  Who knew we needed so much technology to keep our teeth clean!  Of course you can always choose an electric toothbrush with some of the more basic features if these others aren’t for you.  After all, keeping your smile sparkling clean should be a pleasant and rewarding experience.

The cost factor

Another factor to consider is cost, but remember that purchasing an electric toothbrush doesn’t have to empty your wallet.  A variety of electric toothbrushes come packaged with a few detachable and reattachable brush heads.  A family can share the more costly base of the toothbrush and just switch out the removable brush head attachments.  The color, symbol, sticker, or overall shape identifies who’s brush head is who’s.  Just remember its recommended to change out the brush heads every 3 to 6 months for optimal cleaning.  If you find visible wear on the bristles or brush head, that would be a good time to change it out too.

These toothbrushes are awesome!

The best choice is simply a matter of preference.  If you want to go higher tech and get the best possible cleaning your teeth can get outside of a dental chair, you can try an electric toothbrush.  Although, if you’re happy with your manual toothbrush and are using it effectively, there’s no reason to give it up.  After all, at the end of every dental cleaning appointment you find a new one in your take home bag.

Have questions?

At Dental Oasis, we encourage our patients to ask questions. We offer a variety of electric toothbrushes in our office.  We’ve found there are different types for every function and budget.  We can usually save patients $10 to $30 compared to the manufacturer price.  Dental Oasis in McCordsville offers the best in dental care with a focus on proper home care and overall oral health.  The start of a more confident you is just a phone call (317-DENTIST) away.


Up next: The Tooth Fairy Visits