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Four Fun Facts About Molars

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Since your molars are located in the back of the mouth and you don't really see them unless you look in the mirror, you probably don't spend too much time thinking about them. These interesting facts about molars will not only help you better understand these important teeth and their function, but will also help you make better dental health decisions for the chompers in the back of your mouth.

Adults have three sets of molars.

That means there are twelve molars in an adult mouth. The last set of molars are known as the wisdom teeth. If you have had your wisdom teeth removed, you'll only have eight molars in the back of your mouth. Wisdom teeth are often removed during young adulthood because they often come in crooked or become impacted in the jaw. If you have never had your wisdom teeth removed, but are over the age of 20 and do not see them in your mouth, you may wish to visit a dentist for x-rays to make sure they're not impacted. Leaving them impacted may lead to jaw stiffness, tooth aches and infection later in life.

You can only see one-third of your molars.

The remaining two-thirds is located below your gumline and consists of the tooth's roots. Tooth roots can become infected when a tooth is damaged, and dentists use a procedure called a root canal to remove the infected contents. A molar that has been treated with a root canal procedure is essentially "dead," but can remain in the mouth for many years since it is anchored to the jaw bone by ligaments.

Cavities are just as likely to form between the molars as in their chewing surfaces.

You might think that the deep grooves of the molars are a prime spot for cavities since these grooves tend to hold onto food particles, and you would be right. However, many people also develop cavities between their molars because they don't floss between these teeth as often as they should. Reaching the back molars to floss is not easy, but it's important to do so if you want to keep your teeth healthy. Using a longer strand of floss or dental "flosser" picks may make flossing between the molars easier.

Molar pain can indicate a number of health problems.

Toothaches are sometimes due to cavities, but there are another of other possible explanations for achy molars, too. Sometimes molar aches are caused by pain in the jaw joint. They may also be caused by gum disease or an infection in the jaw. It's important to see a dentist promptly if you suffer from a painful molar or molars, so you can begin treatment right away.

Your molars are the teeth that you use to grind your foot to a pulp. Keep them in great shape by visiting your dentist regularly, and don't hesitate to seek dental care if they ever feel or look abnormal. You have at least eight of them in your mouth, and you need them all to chew properly. For more information about tooth care, contact a professional like Joe Rosenberg, DDS.