Helpful Guide to the Parts of a Tooth

Understanding how the teeth work and what they are is a vital component in maintaining good oral health. People are more likely to do something if they know why they are doing it. Saying “brush your teeth” is only so effective; they need to know why brushing helps, if there’s a better method and why teeth need it.

The tooth

This is a quick guide for the components of the tooth, in easy-to-understand language.

The root

Starting at the bottom, the root of the tooth is anchored directly into the jawbone. This is what gives the tooth its strength and why most teeth can last through a lifetime of chewing. Most of the tooth is actually the root; only one-third of the tooth lies above the gumline.

The gums

Though not technically thought of as part of the tooth itself, the gums are important structures that are actually attached directly to the bone as well. This not only gives gums strength but also protects them from being shifted around by food and chewing. Their primary purpose is to form a seal around the teeth.

The pulp

The pulp of the teeth is at the very center and is actually thought of as the “living” portion of the tooth. It is filled with soft tissue, blood vessels and nerves. The pulp is responsible for growing the tooth in the first place; it is also responsible for most pain felt in the tooth. The pulp is removed during a root canal of a fully formed tooth, simply because it is causing pain and is not needed anymore.

The dentin

One layer out from the pulp is the dentin. The dentin is semi-porous, which is how tooth decay is able to make it into the pulp. Dentin is still much denser than the pulp and is bony and hard. It is made of calcified tissue and is essentially bone.

The enamel

This is the layer outside the dentin and the primary layer of protection for all the components inside the tooth. Enamel might be thin, but it is very strong, even denser than the dentin. In fact, it is one of the most heavily mineralized tissues in the entire body. Once tooth decay has broken through the enamel, it accelerates quickly toward the pulp.

This is why retaining enamel is so important.

The crown

The crown of the tooth is more of a cosmetic definition, but it is the name for the entire visible part of the tooth, containing the enamel and dentin. The crown also refers to the “chewing surface” of the teeth, an indicator of its point and purpose. Flat crowns (like those of the molar) are designed for grinding, while the sharp front teeth are designed for tearing.

Having a crown replaced is one of the more common dental procedures.

Learn more today

Want to learn more about the teeth and the other structures of the mouth? Your dentist is happy to answer these kinds of questions and can give you tips on how to protect and maintain those structures.

Call (661) 249-1122 today to reach Brimhall Dental Group.

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