Basic Guide to Anatomy of a Tooth

This article is on anatomy of a tooth. Understanding the basic block goes a long way in improving your dental health. Knowing what helps and what damages it can help you reverse bad dental condition.

Tooth Anatomy @ www.nlm.nih.gov

Tooth Anatomy @ www.nlm.nih.gov

There are 2 main parts to a tooth – crown: the portion above the gums; root: the portion in the jaw, below the gums

Structurally, the tooth is made up of 4 tissues – enamel, dentin, cementum and dental pulp.

 

Enamel

The hardest substance in the body to take the wear and tear of biting, tearing and chewing. It is semi-translucent, hence ranges from light yellow to whitish gray in color, depending on the color of the dentine beneath.

Enamel Ground Section @ en.wikipedia.org

Enamel Ground Section @ en.wikipedia.org

 

It is incapable of self repair.

The picture above is the close up look of the enamel structure – which is honeycomb-like. The “combs” contain minerals that strengthen the enamel. The enamel is weakened when the minerals are dissolved by excessive acids. Read here to find out how to strengthen the enamel.

 

Dentine

The layer below the enamel, dentine is a yellow bone like structure that provides protection for the sensitive pulp.

Image of dentine @ www.cmeba.univ-rennes1.fr

Image of dentine @ www.cmeba.univ-rennes1.fr

 

Softer than enamel, it is more susceptible to decay, and thus is at high risk of developing cavities when not treated. Tooth becomes sensitive when the enamel gets damaged and exposes the dentine.

 

Cementum

Anchors the tooth to the jaw as well as protect the root. Softer than dentine and easily worn away, it continuously regenerates itself, unlike the enamel.

Cementum annulations @ www.jfds.org

Cementum annulations @ www.jfds.org

 

Structurally, it is like a bone (because of the calcium) without blood supply.

 

Dental Pulp

Also known as the nerve of the tooth. It provides building materials for dentine, which is also regenerative. It is a fibrous tissue that contains blood vessels, nerves and lymphatics, which enter through a canal in the root.

The root canal treatment involves removing the damaged dental pulp in the tooth, rendering the tooth “dead”, before cleaning and filling the empty space left behind by the dental pulp.