Anatomy Of Our Teeth
Tooth issues can occur no matter what age you are. From the littlest child to the oldest adult, having good education when tooth issues arise is paramount. Have you ever wondered what parts make up your teeth? Why they are so strong?
Anatomy Of A Tooth
The anatomy of a tooth is actually quite simple. A tooth is made up of various layers that work together to give us our beautiful smiles. Every tooth is made up of multiple parts. These parts are as follows:
-Crown. This is the part of the tooth that you see when smiling. The crown is covered in a white colored material called enamel. Enamel is the hardest substance found in the human body. Even though enamel is very strong, it can easily be broken down by the acids produced by oral bacteria and the acids found is many popular drinks like soda.
-Dentin. Dentin is the layer right beneath the enamel. Although not as hard as enamel, it’s hardness rating is comparable to that of bone. Another great quality of dentin is it’s flexibility. For example, if you bite down on a very hard food, the dentin is able to flex a little bit and can keep your tooth from cracking like it might if teeth were just made of enamel.
-Pulp. This is the inner most layer of the tooth. The pulp provides bloodflow and nutrition to the tooth. The pulp also allows for the nerves to enter the tooth. Without proper bloodflow and innervation of the nerves a tooth will die. The pulp of a tooth is removed during root canal therapy. This procedure allows your dentist to save the tooth for form and function. Once the pulp is removed from a tooth it becomes more brittle with an increased risk of breaking. This is why dentists often recommend placing a dental crown over a tooth that has received root canal therapy.
-Root. This part of the tooth is hidden under the gum tissues. This can be visible when the gums recede as can happen during periodontal disease. The root is what anchors the tooth inside the bone allowing for support during chewing of food. One other portion of the root is called cementum. The cementum is a thin layer that anchors the tooth to the bone thru the periodontal ligament.
–Periodontal Ligament (PDL). The main function of the periodontal ligament is to attach the teeth to the bone. The peridontal ligament also sends sensory information to the brain. For example, if you are eating some popcorn and bite down hard on a popcorn kernel, your jaw suddenly opens to alleviate the pressure. The periodontal ligament sends that pressure signal to your brain, causing that reflex. The tooth doesn’t feel the pressure since the tooth is only capable of sending pain messages to your brain.
-Gingiva (GumTissue). The gums form a collar or sheath around the teeth that protects the underlying bone. When you stop brushing your teeth for an extended period of time, the gingiva become red and puffy as the body begins the inflammatory process. This is the body’s way of defending against the plaque that has built up. If you completely stop brushing, the gingiva will eventually start to lose the war against plaque and recede from around the teeth resulting in periodontal disease that can eventually loosen your teeth.
-Bone. The bone holds the whole tooth in its place. The bone is constantly remodeling itself. This is in response to various forces it experiences in the mouth. For example, if you have braces on, there are forces pushing on the teeth. The bone remodels itself to help the tooth move to the position in which it is being pushed.
Different Types Of Teeth
Every tooth in the mouth has a specific function. The teeth in your mouth are as follows:
-Incisors. These are the sharp, chisel-shaped front teeth (four upper, four lower). They are used for cutting foods.
-Canines. These are sometimes called cuspids, these teeth are shaped like points and are used for tearing foods.
-Premolars. These teeth have two pointed cusps on their biting surface and are sometimes also called bicuspids. The premolars are used for crushing and tearing.
-Molars. These teeth are used for grinding, these teeth have several cusps on the biting surface.
An educated patient is an informed patient who can make smart decisions regarding their dental and health care. Our teeth are quite strong but they are under constant bombardment from outside forces at all times. If you are experiencing any tooth issues see your dentist immediately to put your mind and dental health at ease.