Unless you have had a root canal or any cosmetic or restorative dental procedures, chances are haven’t really thought about the anatomy of your teeth. But when it comes to your teeth, there is a lot that lies beneath – and within. In fact, each of your 32 adult teeth is a complex structure with layers, parts and unique functions. In fact, understanding the complexity and purpose of each tooth might even help some underscore the importance of protecting and caring for these beautiful, important features. For those who are unfamiliar and want to learn, here are key terms to know about the anatomy and function of a human tooth.
Each tooth in your mouth is made up of layers, the outermost of which is the enamel. Comprised of calcium phosphate minerals, a tooth’s enamel is the hardest substance in your body. Nonetheless, when the bacteria in plaque use the sugars that we eat to produce acid to wear away the enamel, it causes tooth decay. And once the enamel is decayed, it can never grow back.
Below the enamel is the dentin, a hard calcified tissue but not as hard as enamel. Dentin is comprised by volume of 78 percent minerals and 22 percent water, making it less brittle than enamel and necessary to support the outer lawyer. If over time the enamel starts to wear down, it will expose the dentin; when that happens expect tooth pain and increased sensitivity to heat and cold.
Like the enamel and dentin, the cementum is a hard connective tissue that covers the root of the tooth, attaching it to the periodontal ligament that connects the root of a tooth to its socket.
The soft, living center of the tooth, the pulp contains blood, nerves and connective tissue that descend into the gums. When the pulp dies or becomes damaged or infected, your dentist may recommend a root canal or tooth extraction.
The crown is the most familiar and visible part of the tooth. Used primarily for biting and chewing, the crown is coated with protective enamel to prevent the entry of bacteria into the inner layers of the tooth.
Coated with the hard layer of tissue known as cementum, the root is attached to the periodontal ligament, while the other is attached to the dentin. The crown meets the root at the gumline, where the root attaches the tooth to the gum.
Each category of teeth has a specific structure and essential function. Your incisors are the four teeth on the top of your mouth and the four teeth on the bottom — their purpose is to cut your food, which is why they are shaped like a chisel. Next, your canines are pointy teeth located next to the incisors. There are two of them on the top of your mouth and two on the bottom; their purpose is to tear down the food. Your premolars – or bicuspids – are the teeth located next to the canines before reaching the molars. There are eight of them — four on top and four on the bottom — that tear and crush your food. Finally, the molars, eight of which are located in the rear of the mouth, grind the food to a pulp. Each one of these teeth has the same anatomy as described above, but their shape and purpose differs.
You may not know the anatomy of your teeth, but there is no doubt you understand the importance of caring for them. Maintaining good oral health is the easiest way to ensure a lifetime of a pain-free, beautiful smile. For those living in the Plantation area, you can trust your teeth to Dr. Ernie Soto. Not only does Dr. Soto offer the full range of dental services – from preventive care to orthodontia to full mouth reconstruction – he is one of the few dentists in Florida to provide sedation in his office. If you have any questions about our services, call the Office of Dr. Soto at (954) 368-6264 or request a consultation online.