The Different Parts of our Teeth and their Functions

We all know the many different functions that our teeth and gums have, however, many of us don’t know the different parts of the tooth and their functions.

The exterior of the tooth consists of the crown. This is what we see when we look at teeth, the upper top part of the tooth. The crown is encased with a thin shell-like material known as enamel. Enamel is the hardest substance in the body, and it helps to protect our teeth from being damaged. What most people don’t realize, however, is that there is much more to the mouth and teeth! The root of our tooth is the part that is implanted into the gums. Although this part may not be exposed like the crown, it too can develop cavities and other oral issues if not taken care of properly. The outer layer of the root, known as the Cementum, binds the root to the bone and forms the socket of the tooth.

So, What is the inside of the tooth made of?

Inside our tooth is a material known as Dentin. Dentin is softer than enamel, however, it is more hard and durable than a typical bone. The dentin surrounds the inner tooth core, which is typically known as the pulp canal or root canal. This area is where nerve ending and blood vessels sensitive and nourish the root.

Understanding teeth and how they work is extremely important, however, nothing is more important than understanding the proper and best ways for caring for your teeth. If you want to keep your natural teeth for years to come, it is important to maintain the best oral hygiene possible.

What happens if I don’t take care of my teeth properly?

If teeth are not treated for properly, they can develop cavities, tooth decay, and other severe oral health issues. If left untreated, these can result in the requirement that the tooth (or teeth) be extracted. This may mean needing expensive dental treatments or possibly even dentures!

To keep your teeth healthy, strong, and beautiful be sure to brush twice a day, floss AT LEAST once a day, and visit your periodontist in Portsmouth, Dr. Spivey, twice or more throughout the year. This is the best way that you can avoid needing dentures or false teeth. Your teeth are good to you, so be good to them; keep them clean, health, and strong! Call (603) 436-7787 or click here to schedule an appointment today!

Visit to learn more about your teeth.

Preventing Tooth Decay

It is extremely important to take care of your child’s teeth—especially when they are younger. Without proper care, children can develop cavities and more severe oral problems later on. Follow these tips from Dr. James Spivey to ensure your child has a strong, healthy smile!

Feed your children with foods high in Vitamin D and calcium; this will help to build strong and durable teeth. To clean the teeth, use a toothpaste that contains fluoride; however, be careful not to use too many fluoride products for this can damage their teeth. Clean their teeth at least twice daily with a small brush (pea-sized), and be sure to use a soft-bristle toothbrush! It is important to clean their teeth twice daily at the same time each day; this will instill a routine as they grow. Try to keep your child’s head still while you brush in a repetitive circular motion. Keep brushing fun for your child and switch up the flavors! You can even get different colored toothpaste to give them something to look forward to when brushing.

Another important step for strong, healthy teeth in your child is to avoid juice. Juices tend to be high in sugar, and it is important not to give a child a sugary treat before putting them to bed. The sugar will sit on their teeth overnight and speed up the tooth decaying process. It is okay for young children to have a small amount of juice, but keep it limited and give it to them during the daytime.

Be knowledgeable about any medications prescribed for your child. At young ages, children are typically given medicine that is high in sugar. These medications are extremely bad for the teeth and contribute to tooth decay. Check with Dr. James Spivey if you are unsure about a prescribed medication.

Teeth enable us to talk, eat, and perform many other vital life functions. If you are concerned with yours or your child’s teeth, contact Dr. Spivey at (603) 436-7787 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Denture Care

               Your dentures need to be treated just like normal teeth in order to keep them in good condition. This means following the same routine you would with your natural teeth. The American Dental Association as well as Dr. James Spivey recommends the following tips to help keep your dentures clean and in good condition:

                Brush your dentures every day: Just like your natural teeth dentures need to be brushed daily to remove food particles that could stain or get caught in your teeth. You should also rinse your dentures prior to brushing to get off excess food particles. This will help when you go to brush them as well.

                While you are brushing your dentures, you should also be sure to brush the inside of your mouth, including the inside of your cheeks, the roof of your mouth and tongue, this will help remove any food particles that may have been left behind as well.

                After you have cleaned your dentures you should soak them in water overnight and keep them in a safe spot as well so they aren’t disturbed. This will help keep your dentures clean as well overnight. If you should use adhesive be sure to follow all directions to safely wear your dentures.

                You can also visit our website at: ­­ to make an appointment or call us today to fix any of your dental needs. We look forward to hearing from  you!

To learn more ways to help keep your dentures clean as well as other dental tips visit:   

8 Causes for Tooth Decay

There are various reasons that a person can get tooth decay. Some of the causes of tooth decay can be poor dental hygiene or genetics. Listed below are the top 8 reasons Dr. James Spivey at their Portsmouth, NH dental practice has found to cause tooth decay in their Portsmouth, New Hampshire dental patients:

Acidic Foods: Some foods that contain a lot of acid may harm any exposed nerves at the base of your gums and teeth. To reduce the chances of this pain occurring, try eating foods that are less acidic and you won’t feel as much pain on your teeth and gums.

Tooth Grinding: Grinding your teeth at night can cause unnecessary wear and tear on your teeth. This strain on your teeth can lead to tooth decay. Ask Dr. Spivey about mouth guard options to help you stop from grinding your teeth.

Tooth-Whitening Toothpaste: Tooth whitening toothpaste can help whiten your teeth, but the chemicals in the toothpaste can also wear down your teeth’s enamel and make your teeth more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. Ask Dr. Spivey which toothpaste is the right option for you.

Mouthwash: On that same note, the chemicals in certain mouthwashes can also have an effect on your teeth’s enamel. If you should decide to use a mouthwash, you should choose one that has more neutral ingredients in it so as to not wear down your teeth’s enamel.

Gum Disease: Gum disease can have an effect on your teeth as well. As your gums recede, they expose nerve and root endings on your teeth that can be sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, as well as vulnerable to bacteria. Be sure to consult with Dr. Spivey if you think you have the symptoms of gum disease.

Excessive Plaque: Plaque is the sticky clear film that grows on your teeth after you eat or drink. Overtime this buildup can cause cavities to your teeth if it is not removed. Daily brushing and flossing of your teeth will help remove the plaque and keep it away.

Cracked Tooth: If you crack your tooth, contact Dr. James Spivey at their Portsmouth, New Hampshire dental practice immediately. Having a cracked tooth can impair you from eating and chewing properly, it can also cause damage to other healthy teeth as well.  Do not wait if you crack a tooth!

Regular Dental Checkups: Maintaining a regular dental schedule with Dr. Spivey at their Portsmouth, NH dental practice will ensure that your teeth stay clean and healthy. Dr. Spivey will also be able to notice any issues before they can progress and treat you accordingly. Make an appointment with Portsmouth, New Hampshire dentist Dr. Spivey by clicking here.

Effectiveness of Taste Buds Hampered by Smoking

Researchers have found that the chemicals in cigarettes may have an effect on our taste buds and how we taste. To learn more about this research, click here:


Dentist Blog: A recent study that appeared in the journal of Chemosensory Perception links the toxic chemicals in tobacco to the prevention of taste bud regeneration. While the research team concluded that smoking didn’t have any impact on the way a person tasted things that were sour, sweet, or salty, they couldn’t say the same for bitter things.

Even though coffee and smoking often get paired together, a smoker may be unable to fully taste the bitterness of coffee. The chemicals in tobacco have been proven to create structural changes to the fungiform papillae of the tongue, making smokers lose their sense of taste over time.

Taste buds are largely responsible for conveying sour, salty, sweet, and bitter sensations in the tongue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives the following responsibilities for taste buds:

  • Triggering digestive systems that change secretions of saliva and stomach acids.
  • Enhancing feelings of pleasure and satiety when eating.

Determining quality of foods and determining “good” tasting foods from “bad” ones, which could have potential toxins.

The study, conducted by Nelly Jacob of the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital APHP in France, tested 451 people split into groups of smokers, nonsmokers, and formal smokers. They were tested on whether they tasted sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, and sourness.

Low levels of bitterness in things are generally not difficult to taste. However, the study discovered that 20% of the smokers in the study could not pinpoint a bitter taste in the samples.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers determined that tobacco prevents taste buds from regenerating. This results in smokers only being able to detect some tastes but not all.

While the long-term effects of smoking on taste buds are not fully known, Dr. James Spivey and his periodontal team in Portsmouth, NH highly recommends trying to stop before it causes additional damage to your taste buds, your teeth, and your body.

If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment with a Portsmouth periodontist, please call James D. Spivey, DDS, MS, Perio today at (603) 436-7787or feel free to check us out online at

We look forward to hearing from you!

6 Bad Oral Health Habits You Should Stop Today

Dentist Dr. James Spivey at James D. Spivey, DDS, MS, Perio in Portsmouth, NH offers 6 bad oral habits that you should drop immediately to protect your smile.


1. Not flossing

Most people realize that brushing your teeth is important make a real effort to do so twice a day. Unfortunately, they believe that brushing means they don’t need to floss. They are wrong. Flossing at least once a day is just as critical to achieving and maintaining a healthy smile. Toothbrushes cannot remove the cavity-causing bacteria left behind from food particles that get stuck in between your teeth. When you start to floss regularly, your gums may bleed and get irritated but it’s important to keep at it.


2. Brushing too soon after eating

Foods and beverages like citrus fruits, wine, sports drinks, and energy drinks can erode the outer layer of your tooth, known as tooth enamel. While you know you must get this acid off of your teeth, it’s crucial to understand that brushing your teeth too soon after eating or drinking can cause more damage to your teeth. When you brush too soon, you are essentially brushing the acid into your teeth, not getting rid of it. While waiting the 30 minutes to brush your teeth after consuming these acidy foods, rinse your mouth with some water.


3. Not replacing your toothbrush often enough

Portsmouth, NH dentist Dr. James Spivey recommends replacing your toothbrush every two to three months. Old toothbrushes are ineffective because they harbor harmful bacteria that can cause infections and tooth decay. Remember to replace your toothbrush after you’ve had a cold!


4. Excessively bleaching your teeth

Be careful about the frequency and severity in which you bleach your teeth. Bleaching too much can cause your teeth to look unnaturally white and increase tooth sensitivity. Before using an at-home bleaching product, talk to dentist Dr. Spivey at James D. Spivey, DDS, MS, Perio. Dr. Spivey can recommend the best procedure that meets your unique dental needs.


5. Using a hard-bristled toothbrush and brushing incorrectly

A great way to cause irreversible damage to your gums is by using a hard-bristled toothbrush and brushing incorrectly. The correct way to brush your teeth is by using a soft toothbrush and gently brushing your teeth and gums at a 45-degree angle, in a circular motion. By using a hard-bristled toothbrush and rigorously brushing back-and-forth, you can expose your gums to recede, exposing the root of the tooth, making them extremely sensitive.


6. Skipping dental appointments

Dr. James Spivey and the American Dental Association recommend visiting a dentist for a checkup and cleaning every 6 months. Skipping these appointments puts your oral health in jeopardy. Dental cleanings get rid of the buildup of tartar and plaque that accumulate over time that your toothbrush and flossing efforts just can’t clean.


To make an appointment with a dentist in in the Portsmouth, NH area, visit Dr. Spivey’s website at:  and book one with Dr. James Spivey today!

15 Ways to Destroy Your Teeth

Did you know that tooth enamel is the hardest and most mineralized part of the human body? Unfortunately, even the hardest part of the human body can deteriorate after years of misuse, neglect, and abuse. Check out the 15 quickest ways to destroy your teeth and learn how to prevent them in this month’s blog post.

1. Brushing Immediately After Every Meal

Most likely, you’ve been constantly reminded from an early age that you should be brushing your teeth right after each meal. While you should definitely brush after each meal, you should wait about 30mins before doing so. If you brush too soon after eating, you risk scrubbing away your enamel that has been softened by the acid your mouth produces when you eat. If you wait half an hour, the acid neutralizes and your teeth re-mineralize.

2. Forgetting to Floss

If you forget to routinely floss, you’re putting your gums in jeopardy of gingivitis. Flossing cleans between your teeth and under your gum line. The longer food stays lodged in contact with the gums, the more problems it can create. If you notice your gums bleed while brushing or flossing, it means you need to take better care of your gums or you could get gingivitis.

3. Skipping Checkups

Dr. Spivey and his team at Dr. James D. Spivey, DDS, MS, Perio in Portsmouth, NH recommends visiting us every six months. If you don’t go often enough, you allow plaque to form into tartar which is more difficult to get off. Tartar attracts additional plaque and carries it into your gums, causing structure damage to your teeth.

4. Using Your Teeth as Tools

Yes, your teeth are hard. Yes, they can break that hard candy, open bags of chips, and crack open a can of soda if you wanted to… but don’t! Opt to use disposable tools in your house like scissors and bottle openers. Unlike these cheap appliances, you only have one set of teeth to last you a lifetime.

5. Not Wearing a Mouth Guard

In any sport where there’s a chance of contact with something or someone, you should be wearing a mouth guard. We recommend a mouth guard for most athletes, especially those that play football, baseball, wrestling, basketball, martial arts, and lacrosse. It just takes one awkward collision with a ball or person to knock some teeth out and cause major problems.

6. Grinding Your Teeth

Grinding your teeth wears down your teeth, leading to decay. Also, the added pressure can fracture your enamel. Most people that grind their teeth don’t know it. It occurs when they are sleeping, stressed, or just bored.

7. Drinking Sugary and Acidic Beverages

Soda, fruit juices, and sports drink contain a lot of sugar and/or acid that eats away at the enamel of your teeth. Think that diet soda containing zero grams of sugar is an exception? Think again. The acid in those sodas are just as bad. Try a healthy drink like water instead. Besides being better for your teeth, water has been proven to have a ton of positive side effects to your overall health.

8. Drinking Coffee, Tea or Red Wine

More beverages that you should avoid are coffee, tea, and red wine. These types of drinks stain your teeth. Once your teeth are stained, the bacteria can lead to decay. Dr. Spivey understands that removing all of these drinks completely from your diet is easier said than done. If you must drink them however, make sure to use a straw and rinse afterwards with water.

9. Whitening Teeth Too Often

While it’s okay to whiten your teeth, whitening too much can have negative side effects. When you whiten your teeth, they become sensitive. When they’re sensitive, your teeth are more prone to irritation, disease, and worn enamel. Before using teeth whitening, check in with your dentist for proper instructions and care.

10. Drinking Bottled Water

Tap water contains fluoride, a compound that can prevent cavities. When you exclusively drink bottled water, you’re missing out on the fluoride your teeth need to fight decay.

11. Getting Your Tongue Pierced

A tongue piercing constantly hits your teeth while speaking. Metal jewelry can crack or fracture your teeth with prolonged use.

12. Being Bulimic.

Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by binge eating and purging. This causes serious damage to teeth. Besides the unhealthy food going down, the stomach acid that comes up with the food eats away at the enamel. There are, of course, additional side effects of being bulimic.

13. Abusing Drugs

We all know drugs are bad, but did you know they are also terrible on your teeth? Drugs like crystal meth cause the users to crave sugary foods, have dry mouths, and clench their teeth. They often end up with horrible teeth that fall out.

14. Using Legal Medications Continuously.

Besides illegal drugs being bad for your oral health, legal medications are bad as well. Using too many cough drops (high in sugar), birth control pills (can lead to gum disease), or antihistamines (dry mouth) are no good.

15. Smoking Cigarettes

Like drinking tea and coffee, smoking stains your teeth, making them more susceptible to bacteria. Smoking is also a major cause of gum and bone disease. Add a healthy mouth to the laundry list of benefits to quitting smoking.


Remember these 15 no-no’s to a healthy mouth and try your best to avoid them. If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call at (603) 436-7787. Dr. Spivey and our friendly team at James D. Spivey, DDS, MS, Perio in Portsmouth, NH  will be glad to help out in any way possible. Want to make an appointment? Visit our website at