Your Tooth’s Anatomy | Altoona Cosmetic Dentist

Understanding the Anatomy of Your Teeth

At Altoona Dental, we believe that the more our patients know about their teeth, the better they can care for them. Understanding the complexity of dental structures helps highlight the importance of maintaining oral health. Here’s an insightful look into the formation and composition of your teeth from your trusted Altoona cosmetic dentist.

The Complexity of Teeth

Teeth are among the most anatomically complex structures in the human body. Their unique tissue composition is found only in your mouth, making them distinct from any other body part.

Primary and Permanent Teeth

Primary Teeth: Also known as baby teeth, these are the first set of teeth that children develop. By the age of three, most children have all 20 primary teeth, characterized by shorter, thinner roots and thinner enamel, giving them a whiter appearance.

Permanent Teeth: These replace primary teeth between the ages of 6 and 12. By the age of 14, most children will have all 28 permanent teeth, with a full set including 32 teeth when wisdom teeth appear in the twenties.

Types of Teeth

Not all teeth serve the same function. Their shapes and purposes vary, which is why they have specific names:

Incisors: These are the four front teeth in the upper and lower jaws, used for cutting and holding food. They have a wide, thin edge resembling tiny chisels.

Canines: Also known as cuspids, these pointed teeth are on either side of the incisors. They are used for holding and tearing food, often referred to as “fangs.”

Premolars: Located next to the canines, these bicuspids are larger and more powerful, designed to crush and grind food for easier swallowing and digestion.

Molars: These 12 flat teeth at the back of the mouth grind food thoroughly, helping prevent digestive issues and choking.

Tooth Components

Your teeth consist of various layers and parts, each serving a crucial function:

Crown: The visible part above the gums, comprising three layers. The enamel, the hardest substance in the human body, protects the inner tooth. Beneath the enamel is the dentin, a bone-like material, and at the core is the pulp cavity containing blood vessels and nerves.

Neck: This thinner middle section separates the crown from the root at the gum line.

Root: Located beneath the gum line, containing more pulp, nerve endings, and blood vessels. The roots anchor the teeth to the jawbone, cushioned by the periodontal membrane.

Recognizing Dental Issues

With a better understanding of your teeth’s anatomy, you can more quickly identify potential issues. However, professional dental care is essential. Our team at Altoona Dental is always here to assist you in maintaining your oral health.

If you have questions about your dental health or wish to schedule an appointment, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are dedicated to providing exceptional care and helping you achieve a beautiful, healthy smile.

Altoona Dental
Phone: (515) 967-4211
107 8th St. SE
Altoona, IA 50009

Fluoride Sources You May Not Be Aware Of | Altoona IA Dentist

Boost Your Oral Health with Natural Sources of Fluoride

At Altoona Dental, we’re passionate about promoting oral health and well-being. One key element in maintaining strong, healthy teeth is fluoride. This mineral has been proven to enhance tooth strength, prevent cavities, and reduce sensitivity. While many municipal water supplies are fortified with fluoride, it’s also naturally present in various foods and beverages.

Here, we explore some natural sources of fluoride and how they can benefit your dental health:


Delicious and nutritious, seafood such as crab legs and shrimp are among the top natural sources of fluoride. Including these in your diet can help bolster your tooth enamel.

Wine, Juice, Raisins, and Grapes

Grapes and their by-products are rich in fluoride. Whether you’re enjoying them fresh, dried as raisins, or in the form of juice or wine, you’re contributing to your fluoride intake. Notably, white wine contains twice as much fluoride as red wine. However, be mindful of the high sugar content in raisins, which can counteract their dental benefits.

Fresh Fruit

Many fresh fruits are excellent sources of fluoride. Eating them raw maximizes their fluoride content. Some of the top fluoride-rich fruits include apples, peaches, strawberries, bananas, watermelon, and cherries.


Potatoes are versatile and a great source of fluoride. Russet potatoes, in particular, contain higher levels of fluoride, but any variety will contribute beneficial fluoride to your diet.

Black Tea and Coffee

Both coffee and black tea naturally contain fluoride. If your local water supply is fluoridated, brewing your tea or coffee with tap water can double the fluoride content, providing an extra boost to your dental health.

Fluoridated Water

Approximately three-quarters of U.S. water utilities add fluoride to their drinking water. The federal recommendation is 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water, balancing optimal tooth decay prevention with minimal risk of dental fluorosis. To learn about the fluoride content in your local water supply, contact your water provider.

Discussing Fluoride with Your Dentist

For those looking to strengthen their teeth and prevent cavities, consulting with your dentist about fluoride is a smart move. Your dentist can provide guidance on the best ways to incorporate fluoride into your daily routine and may recommend a concentrated fluoride treatment during your cleaning appointments to ensure your teeth receive adequate protection.

At Altoona Dental, we’re dedicated to helping you maintain a healthy smile. For more information on fluoride or to schedule an appointment with our Altoona IA dentist, please contact our office. We look forward to supporting your journey to optimal oral health!

Altoona Dental
Phone: (515) 967-4211
107 8th St. SE
Altoona, IA 50009

Insightful Wisdom: Understanding Your Wisdom Teeth | Dentist in Altoona

Have you ever wondered about the purpose behind wisdom teeth and why they sometimes cause trouble? These third set of molars, aptly named wisdom teeth, typically emerge between the ages of 17 and 25. While they may have served a vital role for our ancestors, modern dietary changes and jaw sizes often render them more of a nuisance than a necessity. Let’s delve into the fascinating world of wisdom teeth to uncover useful insights.

The Role of Wisdom Teeth

In ancient times, when our predecessors relied on a diet of roots, leaves, and meats, the extra set of molars provided essential chewing power. However, as our diets evolved and jaws became smaller, the need for these additional teeth diminished. Today, approximately 85% of individuals will encounter issues with their wisdom teeth, necessitating their removal.

Understanding the Problems

The primary challenge with wisdom teeth lies in our shrinking jaw sizes. With limited space available, these late-blooming molars often become impacted, causing pain, swelling, and discomfort. Moreover, their positioning at the back of the mouth makes them challenging to clean, increasing the risk of infection and decay. As a result, dentists frequently recommend extraction to prevent future problems.

Recognizing the Signs of Trouble

While routine dental visits often reveal issues with wisdom teeth, certain symptoms may indicate a problem. If you experience jaw pain, swollen or painful gums, or notice an unusual taste in the back of your mouth, it’s crucial to schedule an appointment with your dentist promptly.

Seeking Professional Guidance

Our dental team in Altoona is well-equipped to assess the condition of your wisdom teeth and recommend appropriate treatment options. Whether extraction is necessary or preventive measures are advisable, we’re here to provide personalized care tailored to your needs.


While wisdom teeth may have served a purpose in the past, their relevance in modern times has diminished. If you suspect your wisdom teeth are causing problems or have questions about their management, don’t hesitate to reach out to our office. Your oral health is our priority, and we’re committed to helping you achieve a comfortable and healthy smile. Schedule an appointment today to explore your options and ensure optimal dental well-being.

Altoona Dental
Phone: (515) 967-4211
107 8th St. SE
Altoona, IA 50009

The Risks of Sharing Oral Germs: Protecting Your Oral Health | Altoona Dentist

Sharing is often second nature, especially when you’re close to someone. However, when it comes to sharing kisses, there are some important considerations to keep in mind. A kiss can transfer over 500 germs between two individuals, potentially impacting your oral health. Let’s explore the dangers associated with kissing and how you can safeguard yourself:

1. Colds and Flu

When you feel under the weather, it’s crucial to avoid kissing to prevent the spread of colds and flu. These illnesses can easily be transmitted through saliva and nasal fluids, making close contact a risk factor for transmission.

2. Cold Sores

If someone has a cold sore around their mouth or lips, it’s best to refrain from kissing them. Cold sores, characterized by small, clear blisters, are highly contagious and can spread even without visible fluid. Avoiding contact with cold sores is essential to prevent transmission.

3. Mononucleosis (Mono)

Kissing is a primary mode of transmission for mononucleosis, also known as the “kissing disease.” Sharing utensils, cups, or food can also facilitate the spread of this illness. It’s important never to share food or beverages, especially with someone who has mono, to minimize the risk of transmission.

Maintaining Fresh Breath

During intimate moments like kissing, fresh breath is essential. Strong flavors like garlic and onions can linger on your breath long after consumption, impacting your breath odor. To maintain fresh breath, practice good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth, tongue, roof of your mouth, and inside of your cheeks twice daily. Additionally, using mouthwash or sugar-free gum after meals can help neutralize odors. If you’re still experiencing persistent bad breath, schedule an appointment with us to explore potential underlying causes.

Conclusion: Prioritizing Oral Health

Kissing can inadvertently spread numerous germs, posing risks to your oral health. By being mindful of cold sores, colds, and flu, and practicing good oral hygiene habits, you can minimize these risks. Remember, regular dental check-ups are essential for maintaining optimal oral health. If you have any concerns or would like further guidance on oral hygiene practices, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with our dental office. We’re here to support your oral health journey and provide personalized care tailored to your needs.

Altoona Dental
Phone: (515) 967-4211
107 8th St. SE
Altoona, IA 50009

The Powerful Effects of Dental Sealants | Cosmetic Dentist in Altoona IA

Welcome to Altoona Dental, your premier destination for top-notch dental care in Altoona, IA. Are you considering the benefits of sealants for your child’s dental health? Let’s delve into why sealants are essential and how they can benefit your child’s oral well-being.

Why Choose Sealants?
Sealants play a crucial role in preventing tooth decay, particularly in the back teeth where decay often occurs. At Altoona Dental, our experienced cosmetic dentist in Altoona, IA, highly recommends sealants for children, teens, and even adults. By applying sealants to the molars, we can effectively shield them from decay. Studies show that sealants can prevent up to 80% of decay within the first two years of application and about half of decay after four years.

When Should Sealants Be Applied?
Typically, the first set of molars emerges around age six, followed by the second set around age 12. For optimal effectiveness, sealants are best applied soon after the molars erupt. During your regular dental examination at Altoona Dental, our skilled team will determine the ideal time to apply sealants for your child.

What’s the Procedure Like?
Sealant application is a routine and painless procedure at our office. After thoroughly cleaning your child’s teeth, we apply a special gel followed by the sealant. With the assistance of a curing light, the sealant quickly hardens, providing long-lasting protection against decay.

Any Concerns to Address?
Rest assured, sealants are safe and rarely cause side effects or allergic reactions. However, if your child has allergies, please inform our team so we can tailor our approach accordingly.

What’s Next?
With proper care, sealants can last for years before requiring replacement. Regular dental visits are essential to maintain the integrity of both the sealants and your child’s teeth. If you’re unsure about the status of your child’s sealants or if they need replacement, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with our expert team at Altoona Dental.

Contact Us Today!
For more information about sealants or to schedule an appointment, reach out to Altoona Dental. Our friendly staff is here to address any questions or concerns you may have regarding your child’s dental health. Your child’s bright smile begins with Altoona Dental!

Altoona Dental
Phone: (515) 967-4211
107 8th St. SE
Altoona, IA 50009

Tobacco Will Cause You To Lose Teeth | Altoona Family Dentist

It’s widely acknowledged that smoking and chewing tobacco pose significant health risks, particularly to the lungs. However, it’s essential to recognize that these habits also profoundly impact oral health. As your trusted Altoona Family Dentist, we emphasize the importance of avoiding tobacco altogether, considering its detrimental effects on the mouth and teeth. Here’s what tobacco can do to your oral health:

Chewing Tobacco:
According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), individuals who chew tobacco are 50 times more likely to develop gum and cheek cancer. Additionally, chewing tobacco can cause gum recession and tooth sensitivity due to exposed roots, creating an ideal environment for bacterial growth and decay. Our experienced team of oral health professionals can provide valuable tips on breaking this habit and improving your oral health.

The American Dental Association warns that smoking one pack of cigarettes daily can lead to the loss of two teeth per decade of life. Smoking increases the risk of tooth loss and can cause staining, bad breath, and an unattractive smile. It’s crucial to avoid smoking cigarettes and cigars to maintain optimal oral health.

Oral Cancer:
Oral cancer can affect various areas of the mouth, including the tongue, lips, floor of the mouth, and gums. The risk of oral cancer is higher in men and individuals over 50 years old. Alarmingly, the prevalence of oral cancer is increasing, particularly among those under 30 years old, as reported by the American Dental Association. If you smoke, it’s essential to undergo regular oral cancer screenings and comprehensive oral health examinations. Early detection significantly improves the chances of successful treatment.

If you currently use tobacco, we strongly encourage you to quit with the assistance of our dental team and your physician. Regular oral exams are crucial for everyone, but especially for tobacco users. Schedule an appointment with our office for a thorough assessment of your oral health and potential issues.

For additional tips on maintaining a healthy mouth or to schedule your next appointment, please don’t hesitate to contact our Altoona Dental office. Your oral health is our priority, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Altoona Dental
Phone: (515) 967-4211
107 8th St. SE
Altoona, IA 50009

Can You Overbrush? | Altoona IA Dentist

Brushing your teeth diligently is a cornerstone of good oral hygiene, but can you overdo it? Surprisingly, yes. Overbrushing, or brushing too vigorously or compulsively, can lead to dental issues like abrasion, sensitivity, and gum recession. Here’s what you need to know about the potential risks of overbrushing and how to protect your teeth:

Abrasions: Overzealous brushing can wear away tooth enamel, leading to dental abrasion. This is characterized by shiny spots near the gum line and V-shaped indentations on the gums.

Tooth Sensitivity: As enamel wears away, tooth sensitivity can develop. Exposed nerve endings in the dentin layer may cause discomfort when exposed to hot, cold, sweet, or sour foods.

Gum Recession: Overbrushing can also cause gums to recede, exposing the softer cementum of the root. This can lead to sensitivity, decay, and even tooth loss if left untreated.

To protect your teeth after overbrushing, consider these steps:

Use a Soft-bristled Toothbrush: Opt for a soft-bristled toothbrush to reduce the risk of abrasion while still effectively cleaning your teeth.

Choose the Right Toothpaste: Avoid abrasive toothpaste and opt for varieties containing calcium and fluoride to strengthen enamel.

Correct Brushing Technique: Brush gently in a circular motion, angling the toothbrush towards the gum line. Avoid applying excessive pressure.

Wait After Eating: Wait at least 60 minutes after meals, especially acidic ones, before brushing to prevent enamel erosion.

Address Other Habits: Avoid using your teeth for tasks like opening bottles or biting nails, as these habits can contribute to abrasion and enamel wear.

If you’ve been overbrushing, it’s essential to address any resulting dental issues promptly. Your dentist may recommend treatments like fluoride varnish, tooth-colored fillings, or gum grafting to protect exposed areas and restore oral health.

At Altoona Dental, your trusted Altoona IA Dentist, we’re here to support your oral health journey. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and learn more about maintaining a healthy smile for life.

Altoona Dental
Phone: (515) 967-4211
107 8th St. SE
Altoona, IA 50009

The Neurological Impact of Dental Health | Altoona Dentist

Ensuring good oral hygiene from childhood is crucial, but does it extend beyond just maintaining a healthy smile? Numerous studies have explored the connection between oral health and overall well-being, including brain function. While the research is ongoing, there’s evidence suggesting a link between poor oral health and compromised brain function. Here’s how your oral health can impact various aspects of your body:

  1. Heart Health: Poor oral hygiene can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, especially in men. Bacteria from the gums can enter the bloodstream, leading to arterial hardening and potentially causing heart attacks or strokes.
  2. Respiratory Health: Bacteria in the mouth can be inhaled into the lungs, increasing the risk of respiratory infections. Inflamed gums and teeth can exacerbate respiratory issues.
  3. Brain Function: Research has indicated a potential connection between poor oral health and dementia. Bacteria from gingivitis might enter the brain through nerve pathways or the bloodstream, contributing to cognitive decline.

A recent study by Rutgers University found a significant relationship between oral health and cognitive aspects like memory and general function. Poor oral health was associated with memory impairment and decreased attention and learning abilities. Additionally, high levels of stress, often linked to poor oral health, can further exacerbate cognitive decline.

To mitigate these risks, prioritize your oral hygiene routine:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice daily with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss daily to maintain healthy gums and prevent decay between teeth.
  • Use mouthwash to kill bacteria and enhance oral health.
  • Visit your dentist biannually for professional cleanings and examinations.

At Altoona Dental, serving as your trusted Altoona Dentist, we’re committed to your dental health and overall well-being. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment and take proactive steps toward maintaining a healthy smile and body.

Altoona Dental
Phone: (515) 967-4211
107 8th St. SE
Altoona, IA 50009

Do I Really Need to Clean My False Teeth? | Altoona Dentist

People tend to assume that because dentures aren’t real teeth, they don’t require the same amount of care and maintenance as natural teeth, but this isn’t true. All dentures, whether partial or full, need to be cleaned and disinfected regularly to prevent bacteria and stains. Dentures, as well as your mouth, can be kept in good shape with proper care.

The following tips will help you take care of your dentures:


After every meal or snack, as well as after brushing your teeth, remove and rinse your dentures. The water helps wash away food particles and bacteria. Always handle your dentures carefully and avoid using hot water.


It is very important to brush your dentures just as you would your teeth. Every morning and night, brush your gums, tongue, the roof of your mouth, and any natural teeth you may have. You should place towels around your sink as well as a hard floor surface to prevent your dentures from being damaged if they fall. Dentures should be cleaned using a soft-bristled toothbrush and without using any cleaning solutions. Water, denture paste, or non-abrasive toothpaste can be used. You can contact our dental office for recommendations on how to safely clean your dentures.

Removing adhesives

You can remove any adhesive residue by gargling with warm saltwater. You can then use a clean washcloth to clean your gums and the roof of your mouth before rinsing your mouth again with warm water. For stubborn adhesive bits, you can also brush your gums with a soft toothbrush.

Soaking overnight

To clean your dentures overnight, soak them in a denture cleaning solution or water. You can also use a fast-acting cleanser before storing your dentures in water. Be sure to follow the instructions on the denture cleaner package. When cleaning a partial denture, use a solution specifically designed for partial dentures.

When not wearing them, it is important to always submerge your partial or full dentures in water or denture solution. The acrylic can dry out over time and lose its shape, leading to the dentures becoming brittle and not fitting well. Dentures contain hundreds of microscopic holes, so it is crucial to keep them moist to prolong their life. When dentures dry out, the following problems can occur:

  • They become painful and uncomfortable. Moisture keeps dentures pliable, so they stay comfortable in your mouth. 
  • Contamination: If you soak your dentures in a cleaning solution at night, you will be able to keep them clean and eliminate all the harmful bacteria.
  • The material becomes brittle-When they are dry, dentures are brittle, which means they are more likely to break if dropped. If your dentures break, you will have to start the entire process over again.

Make sure you see your dentist regularly to have your mouth and dentures examined and cleaned. Please contact our dental office to schedule an appointment.

Altoona Dental
Phone: (515) 967-4211
107 8th St. SE
Altoona, IA 50009

Traveling Soon? Don’t Forget Your Teeth | Dentist in Altoona

Maintaining a regular schedule can be difficult when you travel. For many people, brushing and flossing can seem time-consuming. If you are traveling on business or for pleasure, we’ve put together some helpful travel tips to assist you in maintaining your oral health away from home.

Choose wisely when packing.

If you’re traveling for a long time, you should carry enough toothpaste and floss. If you have a limited amount of storage space, travel-sized products may be able to save you space. Another possible solution is purchasing a disposable toothbrush. These typically require less space and will not be as problematic if left behind. Many disposable toothbrushes even come with toothpaste already applied. Be sure the bristles of a disposable toothbrush are soft, since many disposable toothbrushes do not have soft bristles. Your dentist might be able to make some suggestions.

Make sure your toothbrush is covered.

Traveling will expose you to different kinds of germs. There are times when you might need to share surfaces with many other people, no matter where you stay or who you visit. A toothbrush cover that slips over the head of your toothbrush can prevent it from coming into contact with germs that accumulate on sinks and nightstands.

Water is good for you.

The best part of traveling is trying new foods. The consumption of sugary or acidic foods or beverages is generally not recommended since they can damage your teeth. Water is not only beneficial to our bodies, but can also be beneficial to our teeth. Drinking water can not only remove bacteria from teeth but also neutralize acids that damage enamel. The water also promotes saliva production, which promotes a healthy mouth. Consider taking a reusable water bottle on your travels.

Don’t forget the floss.

While it is important to brush our teeth when traveling, it is equally important to floss our teeth. Make a habit of always packing your floss with your toothbrush. In most cases, a simple package of disposable flossers will be worth the expense and can easily be included with your oral hygiene supplies.

Good habits shouldn’t be broken.

Keep your oral hygiene in check while you are traveling. Make sure you are brushing twice per day for two minutes and flossing daily. Maintaining good oral health when traveling is not easy, but it’s necessary. In addition to being fun, travel can also be stressful. A healthy smile depends on regular, thorough brushing and continuing care with your dentist.

For your oral health needs, please schedule an appointment with our dental office.

Altoona Dental
Phone: (515) 967-4211
107 8th St. SE
Altoona, IA 50009