Do You Know the Different Parts of the Tooth?May 13 2018

Where would we be without our teeth?  As important as our teeth are, you would think we would know more about them.  They help us to speak, eat, and smile.  They really are essential to life.  So what better way to take care of them than to know their different parts?


Most people know that the outermost layer of your tooth is made up of enamel, the translucent, shiny, covering that protects your teeth from decay and sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures.  But did you know that enamel is the hardest substance in the human body?  It covers the visible part of the tooth, or the crown.  As enamel is so sturdy, it is the first line of defense against decay and bacteria for your tooth.  It cannot regrow once it is formed, but it can re-mineralize.  This is important to help keep it strong against cavities resulting from tooth decay.


Enamel is to the crown of your tooth as cementum is to the tooth roots.  While not as hard as enamel, it does a pretty good job of protecting the part of the tooth that rests below the gumline. This material is typically a pale yellowish color and has a bone-like consistency.  Gum recession can expose the cementum, causing hot and cold sensitivity, a good reason to keep flossing your teeth properly.


What about the material under the enamel on the crown of your tooth and the cementum on the root?  That would be the dentin,  dentin makes up the bulk of your tooth and maintains a bone-like consistency much like cementum.  As such, it protects the inner chamber of the tooth, which contains the pulp.  The dentin is even less sturdy than cementum, thus it can be extremely sensitive to both bacteria and temperatures if the enamel is not there to cover it.  That may be why cavities and sensitive teeth tend to plague people who have compromised tooth enamel due to decay or teeth grinding.


Under the enamel or cementum, and under the dentin, is the pulp of the tooth.  Containing the only soft tissue of the tooth, the pulp is in the heart of the tooth.  This, you might say, is the living part of the tooth.  It contains the blood supply and nerves and resides in the pulp chamber, which is in the crown of the tooth, and the pulp canals, which extend down through the roots below the gumline.

This sensitive area is extremely vulnerable and can become infected if damaged.  Root canal therapy may be necessary if the tooth dies as a result so that you can keep your tooth.  The other option is extraction, or removal of the entire tooth.

The bottom line is, understanding more about your tooth's structure and how each part supports each other can help you to protect your tooth from damage.  Things like eating healthy food and making sure you are brushing and flossing regularly, will help your teeth resist bacteria and tooth decay.  Bi-annual visits to your dentist are also important to catch problems early and help keep your teeth cleaner than you are able to at home.

Request Appointment