November 19, 2018

The Anatomy and Structure of a Tooth

How much do you really know about what your teeth consist of, and how they are built? Here’s a little more about the structure and parts of your teeth.

Tooth anatomy
Your teeth have two basic parts:

  • The crown of your tooth is the main part of the tooth that is visible above your gums, and is covered in enamel.
  • The root of your tooth is the portion embedded in your jaw, anchoring your tooth in its socket. The root is not normally visible.

Tooth structure
The basic anatomy of a tooth is made up of several layers:

  • Enamel is the hard outer layer of the tooth crown. Many people don’t know that enamel is the hardest substance in the human body! Enamel is actually semi-translucent, meaning that its colour is affected by the dentin (and any restorative dental material) below it.
  • Dentin is a porous substance found just under the enamel and extending into the root. Dentin is not as hard as enamel, and if enamel is worn away and dentin exposed, this can cause tooth sensitivity. Because dentin is softer than enamel, it decays more rapidly and can be subject to severe decay if cavities are left untreated.
  • Pulp is found at the core of the tooth crown and extends all the way to the tip of the the tooth root. Pulp is a soft tissue that contains the tooth’s blood and nerve supply.
  • Cementum is a bone-like tissue that is not as hard as enamel. This material covers the tooth root, and serves as a surface to which the fibres of the periodontal ligament to attach and secure the tooth in place.

Anatomy around the tooth
Each tooth sits in a bony socket in the jaw, and is attached by a periodontal ligament. The fibres of the ligaments not only anchor the tooth, but cushion it from heavy forces like chewing. Each periodontal ligament has a nerve and blood supply that is vital to the life of the tooth. The gums or gingivae are the soft tissue that surrounds and protects the tooth root and bone.

Tooth development and hygiene
Learn about proper tooth cleaning, including information about types of toothpaste, right here. Read about children’s oral care and development in our Parents’ Guide to Children’s Dental Health.