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Teeth are very critical to our health and appearance. Our teeth allow us to chew our food thoroughly, while also aiding in digestion. Teeth also help us to choose a variety of foods, thereby ensuring proper nutrition. During chewing, the teeth work as a unit with the front teeth cutting and the back teeth grinding the food. That is why the front teeth are pointy and sharp with biting forces of 150 lbs and the back teeth are flat and broad with biting forces of 285. Many people don’t consider their back teeth important because they do not show. They will have them extracted. When enough back teeth have been lost; they will come to the dentist because their front teeth are wearing and chipping. The complete loss of all teeth can be quite debilitating resulting in malnutrition. This occurs frequently in nursing homes. Teeth make our faces fuller by supporting our jawbones and our facial muscles. This can be seen in people with no teeth when the nose and chin are too close together resulting in a “witches” nose and chin. It can also be seen in women with old dentures when the upper lip curls under. They try to compensate by putting lipstick above the hidden lip. The ancient Phoenicians replaced missing teeth with ivory attached to the adjacent teeth with gold wire strands in 500 B.C. Today teeth can be replaced in three ways: dental implants, fixed dental bridges, and removable dentures. Generally, the long-term success rate and comfort is best to worst in the order above. Of course each situation is unique and requires a thorough diagnosis.


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