What Is the Distal Tooth Surface?

Have you ever heard of the distal tooth surface? "Distal" refers to the back surface of your tooth. In contrast, "mesial" means the front surface of your tooth. The distal surfaces of your back teeth are hard to see and can be challenging to clean. That means they're susceptible to tooth decay and other oral health concerns.

Keeping the Distal Surfaces Healthy

Brushing the Distal Surfaces

The distal surfaces of your back teeth are very hard to reach. But, it's not impossible to clean this area of your teeth. When you're brushing your teeth, pay attention to the hard-to-reach back teeth. It's easy to skip these areas if you're not focusing on what you're doing. Take the time to carefully brush all surfaces of your back teeth, including the distal surfaces.

It can be hard to reach the distal surfaces of your back teeth with your regular toothbrush. If you're having trouble, you can try using a small-headed toothbrush. Small-headed toothbrushes are better able to reach all areas of your mouth. A powered toothbrush is another option for reaching the back portion of your back teeth, like the Colgate Optic White Powered toothbrush. Let the bristles work their magic by polishing away surface stains from teeth while cleaning hard-to-reach areas.

Flossing the Distal Tooth Surfaces

Do you have trouble flossing between your back molars? It can be hard to reach all the way back there. You can't see what you're doing very well, and you may not be able to maneuver your hands and the floss well. Consider asking your dental hygienist or dentist for tips about flossing your hard-to-reach teeth.

Another option is to use alternative flossing methods. The American Dental Association explains that the choice to use traditional floss or another interdental cleaner is a personal preference. As long as you use your interdental cleaner properly (your dentist can help with that), it will be effective.

For example, your dentist may recommend using a water flosser to clean hard-to-reach areas if you can't use regular floss. With these flossers, a steady stream of water helps remove food and plaque from between the teeth. Other options include interdental brushes or floss picks.

Consequences of Neglecting the Distal Tooth Surfaces

The distal tooth surfaces of your back teeth are hard to reach, but that doesn't mean it's alright to not clean them. If these areas aren't cleaned, you could develop oral health problems like cavities or gum disease.

When you don't clean the distal surfaces of your teeth, plaque and food particles stay put. Plaque is full of bacteria, and these bacteria can cause cavities. The bacteria can also irritate your gums and cause gum disease. These problems can be serious, so it's important to carefully brush and floss to prevent them.

So make sure you clean the distal areas of your teeth to provide an overall clean and healthy environment in your mouth.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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What Are The Different Parts Of A Tooth?

Each tooth has several distinct parts; here is an overview of each part:

  • Enamel – this is the outer and hardest part of the tooth that has the most mineralized tissue in the body. It can be damaged by decay if teeth are not cared for properly.

  • Dentin – this is the layer of the tooth under the enamel. If decay makes it through the enamel, it next attacks the dentin — where millions of tiny tubes lead directly to the dental pulp.

  • Pulp – this is the soft tissue found in the center of all teeth, where the nerve tissue and blood vessels are located. If tooth decay reaches the pulp, you usually feel pain and may require a root canal procedure.