Anatomy of a Tooth



Anatomy of a Tooth

A tooth may look like a hard, solid structure. This cut-away illustration however, reveals that a tooth is really a complex system of specialized tissues.


Enamel is the shiny, hard, white covering of the tooth is the strongest tissue in your body. It has to be as chewing places as much as 320 Newtons of force on your teeth when you bite, clench, or grind.


Dentin makes up most of the body of the tooth. Even though dentin is hard and feels solid to the touch, it’s actually microscopically porous and needs a covering of enamel or an artificial crown to protect it from decay causing bacteria in the saliva.


Pulp is the inner soft core that contains blood vessels, nerves, and fibrous connective tissue. The pulp provides nourishment for the tooth during its growth and development. Once the tooth is mature, the pulp remains the nutritional and sensory component of the tooth. A fully developed tooth can survive without the pulp provided root canal therapy is performed.


Bone anchors the roots of the teeth to the jaw. Healthy teeth stimulate and keep bone tissue healthy and vice versa. Loss of teeth causes loss of the bone that holds them in place. This can prove very damaging when replacing lost teeth with prosthetic appliances or implants.

The Root

The root is the part of the tooth that sits in the bone below the gum. The root or roots of the tooth is usually twice as long as the crown, the part you see above the gumline. Front teeth usually have one root, bicuspids two and molars two or three or four. Each root can have one, two or more CANALS.

The periodontal ligament

Like the springs that hold a trampoline to its frame, the periodontal ligament supports the tooth and holds it in place in the bony socket surrounding the tooth. This tissue cushions both the tooth and the surrounding bone against the shock of chewing and biting

Gum or gingiva

Gum or gingiva covers the bone surrounding the teeth. Brushing and flossing after meals or snacks keeps this tissue healthy. This is important because gum disease can cause bone lose. Gum disease can also expose the tooth roots to decay, which if unchecked, can cause pulpal inflammation and the need for root canal therapy.



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