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The Anatomy of a Tooth: Understanding Your Smile

By Bruce Wilderman on August 15, 2016

Anatomy of a toothOur Philadelphia dental care center is proud to offer all of our patients the latest in general dentistry services. This includes preventative care as well as options for restorative and cosmetic treatment.

Patient education remains one of the cornerstones at our practice since it helps promote patient wellness and preventative care. With this in mind, let's consider one of the basic things that all patients should know: the anatomy of a tooth.

A Breakdown of a Tooth's Anatomy

To start off, let's do a breakdown of a tooth's basic anatomy. We'll then consider each part or group of parts on their own.

The outward appearance of the teeth:

  • Crown
  • Gumline
  • Root

The layers of a tooth

  • Enamel
  • Dentin
  • Pulp chamber/dental pulp

Crown, Root, and the Gumline in Between

When it comes to the outward appearance of the teeth, there's the crown of the tooth, the tooth root, and the gumline separating the borders of both. The crown is the top portion of a tooth that is exposed. It is the part used to bite and chew, and the part of the smile that we most pay attention to. The gumline refers to the gum tissue that conceals the rest of the tooth from view. The gumline covers the root of a tooth, which anchors it into the jawbone.

For a visual representation, consider this for the lower teeth:

Crown

~~~Gumline~~~

Root

The upper teeth, by contrast, look like this:

Root

~~~Gumline~~~

Crown

The Enamel Layer of a Tooth

The topmost layer of a tooth is comprised of enamel. This is one of the hardest substances in the entire body. Though durable, the enamel layer is subject to staining, decay, and gradual wearing down. This is why it's so crucial to brush, floss, and watch what you eat if you want to keep your teeth healthy as well as beautiful.

The Dentin Layer of a Tooth

The dentin layer is located just under the enamel of a tooth. The dentin is yellowish in color, which is why the teeth may appear dingy or yellowish when the enamel wears away. The dentin is not as durable as the enamel of a tooth, though it is a generally strong substance.

The dentin contains small pores called dentinal tubules. These dentinal tubules lead into the inner portions of a tooth and aid with sensation. The tubules are, in part, responsible for your ability to feel heat, cold, and pressure around your teeth.

The Pulp Chamber and Dental Pulp

It may surprise you, but the inside of each tooth is hollow. This is the pulp chamber of a tooth. The pulp chamber contains a substance known as dental pulp. The dental pulp is comprised of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. Dental pulp was essential for the initial formation of your tooth, supplying the tooth with the necessary nutrients support for proper formation.

Dealing with Dental Health Problems

Given the various parts of a tooth, it should come as no surprise that treating a dental problem may involve various approaches. Treating one layer of a tooth can affect another layer, for instance, and the condition of the gums can affect the teeth. This is why regular checkups with your dentist are crucial for ensuring long-term dental health and wellness.

Learn More About Your Dental Health and Wellness

For more information about your teeth, gums, and overall dental health, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry practice today. We will work closely with you to improve and enhance your overall dental health and wellness.

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