When you’re suffering tooth pain, no matter the tooth, it’s important that it be addressed quickly. However, did you know that some teeth are more susceptible to problems than others? If you guessed that your molars are more likely to suffer tooth decay or become afflicted with a cavity, then you are correct! (Maybe you know from personal experience.)
One reason for the higher prevalence of complications in molars is due to the eruption of wisdom teeth, or your “third molars.” As you read this, you might think, “I don’t even know many people who still have their wisdom teeth.” That’s true! In fact, the reason most people have them pulled is due to harm they can cause to the teeth around them.
While molars appear to be all doom and gloom up until this point, we all know what an important role they serve in the mouth. Keep reading to learn more about the most common molar problems that patients call Dr. Marchbanks’ office for.
The pain can come out of nowhere, and when it does come, it can leave you scrambling for your Arlington dentist’s phone number. A call from a patient who is experiencing a spontaneous pain without any apparent cause, or sensitivity or sharp pain while eating or drinking, is normally a good indication that a cavity is to blame.
Once our office receives a call like this from a patient, we work to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. When scheduling, we try not to delay since a cavity left lingering for too long can lead to severe complications, especially in a molar.
If it is determined that a cavity is present, then your dentist will discuss next steps. Fillings are the main treatment option when decay has progressed beyond the earliest stage. Molars are especially tough teeth, and so cavities that get a molar aching have typically progressed past a superficial cavity.
The fillings we use in our Arlington office are made of various materials, including tooth-colored composite resins and porcelain or dental amalgams that are a combination of several materials. This is a relatively painless procedure that will restore the integrity of your molar for all the chomping your heart desires!
Why are molars vulnerable?
Decay often happens in molars because these teeth have lots of grooves, pits and crannies, all of which can collect food particles. As a result, they’re harder to keep clean than your smoother, easy-to-reach front teeth. It’s a double-whammy!
In addition, molars are very close together. Take that and combine it with the fact that they are in the back of your mouth, and you have an oral health challenge. It’s important to brush with fluoride toothpaste, and to make sure to floss all the way to the back of the mouth.
You can ask Dr. Marchbanks about sealants, too. Sealants provide a protective cover for your teeth, including your molars. The procedure to apply the sealant is both quick and painless. An acidic gel is placed on your dry tooth to rough up the surface for better application of the sealant itself. Once the sealant is applied, it acts as a barrier against food particles infiltrating the deep grooves of your teeth. Studies have shown sealants reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars—not bad!
Unique molar problems
Wisdom teeth are the wild card when it comes to molars. Some patients we’ve seen have fewer than four, and in rare cases, a person has more than four! Wisdom teeth normally appear in late adolescence or early adulthood, between the ages of 17 and 25 years (where they get their name).
Wisdom teeth are believed to be “evolutionary relics” since they were helpful to our distant ancestors who ate diets of rougher foods like sticks and reed plants. As the more susceptible molars wore down or fell out, wisdom teeth provided replacements.
Nowadays, with modern advancements in oral hygiene and softer diets, we don’t need these replacement teeth, but they still grow in. Essentially, our mouths can hold 28 teeth, but including wisdom teeth, we have about 32 teeth all vying for space. Wisdom teeth symptoms such as overcrowding, bone and nerve damage, infection, etc. can all be the product. The most common treatment for wisdom teeth symptoms is the extraction of these teeth. It is estimated more than 10 million people have their wisdom teeth extracted each year.
Importance of molars
By this point you might be wondering why we even have molars since they seem to cause so many problems! The molars are the largest of the teeth. They have a wide, flat biting surface. The function of the molars is to chew, crush and grind food.
The first molars appear in babies between 12-18 months and are replaced by the first and second premolars (four upper and four lower). When you eat tough meats or fiber-filled vegetables, you are dependent on your molars to break them down into swallowable chunks.
Molars are also the strongest teeth in the mouth. These teeth can exert 70 pounds of force per square inch, a force which tapers off as you move towards the front of the jaw. This is equivalent to approximately 171 pounds of pressure in total. While they may seem to be a nuisance when it comes to brushing, morals are an essential part to a functioning mouth.
As you read above, taking care of molars can be difficult due to their placement. Even with superb attention to these teeth, problems can still arise. If you are in Arlington and are experiencing molar pain, give our office a call today. To prevent tooth loss or gum line recession, it is important you act quickly at the first sign of pain. Your molars are important—don’t forget to take care of them!