When we check all around your mouth, we document the ‘state’ of your teeth and underlying gums. Many of the words that you will hear us say as we do the exam will seem very foreign to you; it’s like a different language. One of the words you may hear is dental buccal. “This tooth needs a buccal,” means that a certain surface of the tooth needs its buccal surface filled.
What does Dental Buccal mean?
The word buccal means something though: it’s the surface of the tooth that is opposite the cheek. Let us explain:
Each tooth has five surfaces. These are: (It may help to picture a cube.)
- Occlusal – the top surface or chewing surface of the tooth.
- Mesial – this is a side surface of the tooth; the side that is closer to the front of the mouth.
- Distal – this is also a side surface of the tooth, the side that is closer to the back of the mouth.
- Lingual – the inner surface of the tooth that faces the tongue.
and last but not least –Buccal.:
- Buccal – the outer surface of the tooth that faces the cheek.
Dental Buccal and Lingual Surfaces (Cheek and Tongue side) of Your Teeth
The buccal (or cheek-side) of your teeth are usually smooth. One exception is that your lower molars may have buccal pits. The lingual (or tongue-side) of your teeth are also usually smooth, this time with an exception of upper molars that often have lingual grooves ending in a pit. Some upper front teeth might have lingual pits, as well.
Occlusal and Incisal Surfaces (Biting side) of Your Teeth
All premolars and molars (your back teeth) have pits and grooves on the occlusal (biting) surfaces. The occlusal surfaces also contain tooth cusps, or raised areas. Canines are called “cuspids” because they have one cusp each. Premolars are called “bicuspids” because they typically have two cusps each. And molars usually have four or five cusps each. The cusps of premolars and molars surround the pits and grooves of these teeth. The incisal surfaces are the biting surfaces of your front teeth. They may show a small hint of cusp development, however incisal edges are usually without pits and grooves and are easy to clean.
Why It Matters
Smooth surfaces of teeth clean easily, and your mouth even performs a lot of self-cleaning on these surfaces throughout the day. Your tongue movement and salivary flow help to clean these smooth areas of food particles and bacteria. The more difficult to clean areas are your pits and grooves, between your cusps, so that is where you need to focus your brushing. The most common places where plaque tends to stay trapped and where tooth decay tends to start are:
- Right along the gum line
- In the pits and grooves
- Between the teeth at the contact point where one tooth touches the other (the tightest spot)
Stages of Tooth Decay & Treatments
Stage 1: Initial Demineralization
During this stage of tooth decay, you might see a white spot appear on one or more of your teeth. This white spot, known as mineral loss is an early indication of tooth decay. However, the good news is initial demineralization can be reversed before more permanent damage occurs. Before permanent damage occurs visit your Omaha dental office to receive fluoride treatment. Fluoride helps strengthen enamel which makes your teeth resistant to the acids produced by plaque bacteria.
Stage 2: Enamel Decay
If initial demineralization continues without effective treatment, your tooth enamel will further break down and cause the white spots on your teeth to darken and turn a brown color. During this stage, small holes in your teeth known as cavities, or dental caries, may form. To treat enamel decay/cavities your dentist may use fillings to clear areas of decay. The material used to fill the hole is typically the same color as your teeth.
Stage 3: Dentin Decay
Dentin is the tissue that lies under the enamel and is much softer. Because of this, dentin is much more sensitive to acid damage. When tooth decay reaches the dentin, it is common for patients to report experiencing increased tooth sensitivity when eating or drinking hot and cold foods/beverages. Similar to enamel decay, dentin decay can be treated with fillings if caught early enough. However, in more advanced cases, your dentist may opt to use a dental crown. Before placing the crown a dentist may remove some of the tissue around your tooth in order to ensure the crown fits around your tooth.
Stage 4: Pulp Damage
The pulp is the innermost layer of your tooth and contains nerves and blood vessels that work to keep your teeth healthy. After the pulp becomes damaged, your teeth may swell and place pressure on your nerves causing tooth pain. The only effective way to treat pulp damage is by having your dentist perform a root canal.
Stage 5: Abscess
During this stage, tooth decay has reached the pulp and bacteria causes an infection. This infection then leads to a pocket of pus forming at the bottom of your tooth. Tooth abscesses can cause severe pain and oftentimes need immediate treatment. While the most common treatment involves a root canal, in severe cases, your dentist may remove your tooth completely.
Keeping all of your new tooth surface knowledge in mind, we hope you are able to understand a little better why thorough brushing after each meal (really focusing on those pits and grooves!) and flossing at the end of the day (to get the plaque out of those tight spaces) are so important to your dental health!
Regency Family Dentistry Omaha | Best Omaha Dentist near Westroads Mall in Regency
Whether your teeth needs are a:
- complete exam and cleaning,
- full-mouth restoration
- or anything in between
We promise to provide you with exceptional care as we enhance the natural beauty of your smile. Below are just some of the many procedures and dental services we regularly provide to our patients – with a gentle touch, and stunning results. Your smile is our first priority, and we’ll give you something to smile about.
- Dental Exams
- Dental Cleanings
- Oral Cancer Exam
- Fluoride Treatment
- Dental X-Rays
- Home Care
- Nightguards & Mouthguards
- Dental Implants
- Composite Fillings
- Porcelain Crowns
- FixedPorcelain Bridges
- Porcelain Veneers
- Tooth Whitening
- What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?
- Dental Implants
- Inlay Restorations
- Onlay Restorations
- Composite Fillings
- Dentures & Partial Dentures
- Fixed Bridges
- Root Canal Therapy
- Wisdom Teeth Extractions