Lower front teeth

Lower Front Teeth

The four lower front teeth are the smallest, most fragile teeth in your mouth but in the past they would be the last ones standing in your old age. These days we expect you to retain most of your teeth for your lifetime, if at times held together by fillings and crowns. The lower four incisors are the most likely to be untouched by decay and the dentist

The number one reason that these delicate souls survive is that there is a large salivary gland just behind your lower front teeth. This bathes the teeth in a continual flow of saliva which washes away debris, and buffers the acids on the teeth.

These teeth can get build-up on the tongue side for the same reason; the great flow of saliva mineralises the plaque that is sitting there though the amount of build-up varies from person to person; it just depends on your body chemistry and cleaning.

If you do manage to get decay in these teeth then the chances are that the rest of your teeth are not doing well either. Small teeth have thin enamel which means that the nerve of the tooth is not far from the outer surface. Even a small amount of decay can lead to the nerve being irritated enough to require root canal treatment. Dentists dislike root filling these teeth. They look simple but they have nerve systems like coral- lots of branches that can make them very difficult and often impossible to fill.

If we do successfully fill them- we don’t want to place a crown on them. They are so small that by the time we trim them down to fit a crown, there is only wisp of tooth left which can easily snap off.

Just like the top front incisors, you can damage the lower incisors by miss use - these teeth are designed for cutting the first bite of food. They are not designed for opening bags, biting sticky tape, fingernails, thread. You may not notice the damage initially but it is cumulative. One day you will come and see me and say “I wasn’t doing anything and a chip has come off the lower tooth on the tongue side” - we know better

These teeth have a very thin layer of bone over their roots on the lip side. This is in turn covered by a very thin layer of gum.  If you injure this gum (tooth brush, hard foods) then it can form an ulcer that goes through to the bone. Once the bone is exposed to the tough oral environment, it will disappear and suddenly your teeth appear longer. The gum has receded so it is lower than its neighbours, it is more difficult to clean and you will need to pull your lip out while brushing to see that you are cleaning very, very gently.

The further the gum recedes the closer the edge of the gum gets to the mobile flesh of the lower lip, this can lead to the gum being pulled off the tooth, and the tooth tilting forwards

Appreciate your lower incisors, floss them, brush them and the gum gently, and drink plenty of water so that the salivary gland works well. Don’t get piercings in your tongue or lip that can lead to injury of the delicate gum or tooth. Don’t bite stuff you shouldn’t- unless you are biting your arm off to save your own life, be patient until you find the scissors.


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