The Anatomy of Teeth: A Close up Look at the Parts of Your Teeth
As children, we have 20 baby teeth. Then, we're bumped up to 32 adult/permanent teeth when we get older. You might look at your set of pearly whites in the mirror each day when you brush and floss, thinking they're just like your fingernails. They're both white and hard, after all.
But your teeth aren't made of keratin. In fact, they're made of "alive" parts, unlike your fingernails! There's definitely more than meets the eye. So what's the anatomy of teeth like? Learn more about your chompers so you can appreciate them a bit more.
The Anatomy of Teeth
We have 4 different types of teeth that help us eat, drink, and talk. They're the incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. These teeth have different shapes to either cut up, tear, or crush food. Regardless, they all have the same anatomy. Let's break down the parts of a tooth.
The crown is the exterior of the tooth, so it's above the gum. It's what you're looking at when you gaze into the mirror.
The root extends down from the crown and into the gums. You're not able to see it, but it anchors the tooth into your jawbone. That way, when you eat or speak, your teeth don't go flying out. Your tooth's like an iceberg; 2/3rds of it is in the roots, below the gumline!
Speaking of the gumline, this is the middle bit where the crown becomes the root. On the actual tooth, this division is called the neck. Plaque and tartar tend to accumulate here, so you need to take good care of your teeth to prevent gum disease and tooth decay.
You'll find the cementum at the root of the tooth. This is a layer of hard tissue that's softer than enamel (more on this later), but as hard as bone. The cementum is attached to the periodontal ligament. Its job is to connect the tooth's root to the gum and jawbone.
The periodontal ligament isn't technically part of the tooth, but it's important. You'll find lots of connective tissue fibers here, and one end is connected to the cementum. The other end is connected to the alveolar bone, or jawbone. Essentially, you can think of the periodontal ligament as shock absorbers for your mouth. They protect your teeth when you're biting and chewing.
If you're wondering, "what are teeth made of", then here's your answer: enamel. This is a hard mineral made of crystalline calcium phosphate (hydroxylapatite) and protects everything inside your teeth. It's even harder than bone! Enamel isn't "alive", so if you lose it, it's gone forever. This is why it's important to take good care of your teeth. If you lose enamel from decay or damage, then your teeth will be more vulnerable.
The dentin is right underneath the enamel. It covers almost all of the tooth, which makes it a major component. While enamel is hard and not alive, dentine is softer and considered living tissue. It's similar to bone, but it's more elastic. There are many tiny holes in dentin, and it protects your teeth from both heat and cold.
Beneath the dentin is the pulp chamber. This is where all your tooth's tissue, nerves, and blood are. This is soft tissue that pumps out blood and nutrients to the tooth so it stays healthy and alive. You also have small lymph vessels, which transport white blood cells to your teeth. That way, the tooth fights against bacteria.
You might've heard the term "root canal" before; it's mistakenly used as the term for the dental procedure. The root canal is also known as the pulp canal. It's an open space inside the tooth's root, and the blood vessels and nerves from outside enter through this canal. This is also where the pulp comes out from the pulp chamber.
These canals are similar to the root canal but are smaller. They actually branch off from the root canal and lead to the dentine. The job of accessory canals is to connect the pulp with blood vessels and nerves.
At the root tip, you'll find the apical foramen. It's a small opening that allows blood vessels and nerves to get into the tooth.
Conditions That Can Happen to Your Teeth
We all know the importance of oral hygiene, but what exactly can happen if you don't keep up with it? Well, for one, you can get cavities. These are small holes that result from bacteria and acid. Once the holes reach the pulp, they can cause pain and sensitivity to heat and cold. If it gets bad enough, you can get an infection and even lose your tooth.
Other conditions include:
- Periodontal disease
- Tooth erosion
Conditions like malocclusion and bruxism can also cause issues, so it's important for you to have regular dental checkups.
Take Good Care of Your Teeth
Now that you know the anatomy of teeth, you should have a newfound appreciation for all the intricate parts and how they work to give you strong and healthy teeth. It's vital that you take good care of them, especially since lost enamel is gone forever.
So see your dentist regularly and keep up with your oral hygiene. You'll thank yourself later! If you haven't seen the dentist in a while, then book an appointment with us now. We have state-of-the-art technology and serve your entire family!