While most people know how important it is to take good care of your teeth and mouth, not everyone has a good understanding of the anatomy and structure of teeth. Understanding the different parts of each tooth and their function can help inform us about potential problems and how to best care for our oral health.
What is the Anatomy of a Single Tooth?
Each tooth is made up of several different elements and each part plays a significant role in the structure and function of the tooth and our mouth as a whole. The tooth is composed of three parts: the root, the neck, and the crown.
The root is the part of the tooth that extends into the bone, keeps the tooth in place in the mouth, and makes up about two-thirds of the tooth. The root is made up of several parts and they include:
Root canal – This refers to a passageway that contains the pulp of the tooth.
Cementum – This is also sometimes called cement. The cementum is a bone-like material that covers the root of the tooth and is connected to the periodontal ligament.
Periodontal ligament – The periodontal ligament is composed of both collagen fibre and connective tissue and contains both blood vessels and nerves. Working in conjunction with the cementum, this ligament connects the teeth to the tooth sockets.
Nerves and Blood Vessels – Blood vessels provide the periodontal ligament with oxygen and nutrients, while the nerves help to control the amount of force and pressure that is used when chewing.
Jaw Bone – The jaw bone, also referred to as the alveolar bone, is the bone that surrounds the tooth roots and contains the tooth sockets, essentially holding the teeth in place.
The neck of the tooth is also referred to as the dental cervix. This part of the tooth sits between the crown and root and forms the line where the cementum joins with the enamel. The neck of the tooth has three primary parts:
Gums – The gum tissue, also referred to as gingiva, is the pink and fleshy connective tissue that is connected to the neck of the tooth and the cementum.
Pulp – Pulp is at the core of the tooth and is made up of nerve tissue and minuscule blood vessels.
Pulp Cavity – The pulp cavity, sometimes known as the pulp chamber, is the area within the crown that contains the pulp.
The crown of the tooth is the part of the tooth that is visible and exists above the gumline. The crown of the tooth is comprised of three main parts:
Anatomical Crown – The anatomical crown is the top part of the tooth. It’s typically the only part of a tooth that can be seen.
Enamel – Enamel is the protective outermost layer of the tooth. Enamel is the hardest tissue in the body and it works by protecting the teeth from bacteria. It also strengthens the teeth so they can withstand pressure as a result of chewing.
Dentin – Dentin is the layer of mineralized tissue that resides just beneath the enamel. Enamel extends throughout the entire tooth, from the crown down through the neck and the root. Dentin works to protect the teeth from hot and cold temperatures.
Common Structural Conditions with Teeth
Our teeth perform so many important functions every single day. These essential jobs that the teeth are responsible for in turn make them vulnerable to a variety of conditions and issues. Some of the most common of these are:
Cavities are small holes that are the result of a buildup of acid and bacteria on the surface of the tooth. If left untreated, the cavity can develop deeper into the tooth, eventually extending to the pulp. Cavities can result in pain, sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, and in some cases can cause infection or tooth loss.
Pulpitis is inflammation of the pulp, most commonly caused by an untreated cavity. The primary symptoms of pulpitis are significant sensitivity and pain in the tooth. This condition can lead to an infection which can progress into an abscess in the tooth’s root.
Periodontal disease is also sometimes referred to as gum disease and is an infection of the gums. Symptoms most commonly include swollen, red, bleeding, or receding gums. Gum disease can also result in bad breath, pain, sensitivity, and loose teeth. Smoking, the use of certain medications, and overall poor oral health can increase the risk of gum disease.
Bruxism is the habit of grinding or clenching your teeth. Those with bruxism are often unaware that they are doing it, and many people only do it when they are asleep. As it progresses, bruxism wears down the enamel of the tooth, ultimately leading to severe damage and even tooth loss. This condition can also cause pain in the teeth, jaw, and ears. Depending on the severity, bruxism can also cause damage to your jaw and prevent it from opening and closing effectively.
Tips for Keeping your Teeth Healthy
Caring for your teeth doesn’t have to be complicated or overly time-consuming. A good oral health care routine is as simple as brushing properly twice daily, flossing once a day, and seeing your dentist regularly for routine checkups and cleanings. Your dentist is an expert when it comes to identifying potential issues and helping you to achieve and maintain your best and healthiest smile ever. At Stonegate Dental we pride ourselves on providing the highest quality of service and care to all of our clients. Let us help you achieve the smile of your dreams by contacting our Guelph Dentist’s office today!