The Parts of Your Tooth
Teeth are surprisingly complex, with a lot of different sections that work together to ensure you can chew through your food. Teeth are like an iceberg, with the bulk of the tooth residing under your gum line where you cannot see it. Each part plays a crucial role in the development and stability of your teeth.
The top of your teeth, what you see when you open your mouth, are called the crown. Each crown is made up of tooth enamel, the protective layer of your teeth. Enamel is a hard layer of calcified tissue, and surprisingly is the hardest substance in the human body. But because there are no living cells in enamel, it cannot repair damage caused by bacteria or wear. That’s where your dentist comes in.
The next layer of your tooth is called dentin. Dentin is made of living tissue, and is what supports the enamel of your teeth. Dentin is softer than enamel, which is why if exposed, is much more sensitive and prone to cavities.
Within the dentin, at the center core of your teeth, is the pulp or nerve. This soft tissue is responsible for providing the blood flow and nutrients that are essential to keep your teeth alive. A tooth may have anywhere between one and three roots, depending on which tooth it is. If this area is damaged or decayed, a root canal procedure becomes necessary to save the tooth.
The bottom of your tooth is called the root. Your tooth root acts in a similar fashion to tree roots, providing stability and anchoring your tooth to the jawbone. Each root is covered in cementum, a hard surface that helps to protect and attach the root. A smaller softer layer of tissue called the periodontal ligament further anchors your tooth to bone. You may have heard of periodontal disease, which is caused by dental plaque invading the gum tissue and ligaments that are supporting your tooth. This is why regular flossing and brushing is so crucial to the health of your mouth.
Now you know that your teeth are more than just the pearly white crowns you see when you smile. Each part of your tooth works in harmony with the rest to ensure you are able to chew your food. But if one area becomes damaged or diseased, it is very easy for the rest of the tooth to follow. Fortunately with regular brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings, you can keep your teeth healthy throughout your life.