In talking about cosmetic dentistry and other issues, we often refer to the different parts of your teeth, and we try to make it clear what we mean, but if you don’t know what your tooth is made of, the explanation might not make as much sense.
But here’s a helpful primer on the structure of your teeth so that you can get a better picture of what your tooth is really like, inside and out.
Crowns and Roots
We often talk about the different parts of the tooth, such as the crown and the root. The crown is the part of the tooth that is above the gumline, it’s made of enamel and is intended to be attractive as well as have the functional strength to bite and chew food. Dental crowns get their name because they completely cover and replace this part of the tooth.
The root is the part of the tooth that is submerged below the gums. It’s supposed to bond to the periodontal ligaments and keep your tooth in your jaw. It’s made of cementum, and shouldn’t be seen. This is the part of your tooth that only a dental implant can replace.
Sometimes, we talk about the place where the tooth narrows, connecting the crown and the root, which is often called the neck of the tooth.
When you smile, it’s the enamel that gives your teeth such a beautiful white color. Enamel is a hard, mineral covering of your teeth. It’s the part of your body that’s most mineral, about 96% mineral, mostly hydroxyapatite. This mineral gives your teeth their bright color, their hardness, and their strength.
Under the enamel, there’s another layer of the tooth that’s intended to be complementary. It’s not as mineralized, and not as hard. It’s a little more flexible, helping your teeth to absorb shocks without cracking too much. This is the dentin, which is only about 70% mineral–the same amount as bone. Unfortunately, dentin is not the same bright white color, and it’s not as resistant to decay. This means that when you start to expose your dentin, the appearance of your teeth suffers. And your teeth get more vulnerable to decay: acid and bacteria will eat through dentin quickly.
The pulp, or nerve, in your tooth is the soft, living structure inside the tooth. It’s mostly important when your teeth are growing, and once your teeth are fully developed, they can often do just fine without it.
Your pulp is vulnerable to bacterial infection. When bacteria make their way into the interior of your teeth, they can kill the pulp and take its place. Removing bacteria from the pulp chamber requires a root canal procedure.
We mentioned that cementum is the covering on the roots of your teeth, so it’s something you shouldn’t ever see. It’s got a rough surface so that periodontal ligaments can attach to it. Unfortunately, this also means bacteria can hold onto it really well, too, so it’s best to keep it concealed.
Cementum is not nearly as strong as the other parts of your teeth. It’s only 45% mineral, which makes it vulnerable to fracture and to decay if it gets exposed.
We Can Answer Your Questions
Have more questions about your teeth and tooth-related symptoms? It’s best to ask a dentist so you can get answers that are accurate and help you understand how to protect your oral health.
To talk to a Philadelphia dentist, please call (610) 272-0828 today for an appointment at Dental Excellence of Blue Bell.