As an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, Dr. Hansen sees a lot of teeth and answers a lot of questions. One common question is about the structure of a tooth. So we thought we’d share this structure of tooth diagram to show you the different parts of a tooth. Then we decided to tell you more about what their purposes are. If you have an issue that requires our attention, please don’t hesitate to call and schedule an appointment.
Maintaining Your Tooth Structure is Key
Each layer of a tooth is vital to its health. As layers erode, the inner layers become exposed. Understanding the tooth structure is very helpful as a way to encourage better oral health.
When you lose a tooth, it can be very upsetting. Oral hygiene, overall good health, and genetics must all work in your favor to avoid losing a tooth. Some 69 percent of adults younger than 45 are missing a tooth. By age 60, the percentage starts to go up. According to the WHO, oral health problems are so pervasive that they reach the level of a global health crisis.
Losing a tooth means you lose the periodontal ligaments that hold the tooth in place. Without that structure, the tooth loss starts to contribute to the loss of your jaw bone. This is why dental implants have become such a vital part of dental medicine today. It may sound cosmetic, but it is really essential to a person’s oral health to have a tooth directly replaced by an implant. You can learn more about this in this article: Seven Ways Dental Implants Benefit Oral Facial Health.
What Should You Know About the Structure of a Tooth
1. Enamel can wear away.
Most of the time, the only visible part of a tooth is the enamel. The enamel is the hard, outer layer of a tooth. When you are brushing or checking your teeth, the enamel is what you can easily see. Typically the enamel is a white or off-white color. While many people aim to have completely white enamel, slightly yellow enamel is not an indicator of bad oral hygiene.
2. Dentin exposure causes sensitivity.
Just below the enamel is a layer known as dentin. This layer is solid tissue full of small, nearly invisible tubes. Dentin is one of the biggest contributors to the sensitivity of your teeth. If the enamel of your teeth is suffering from any damage, your dentin layer is more prone to sensitivity.
Weak enamel can cause liquids or foods to create a sensitive reaction in your teeth. There are many toothpastes to help with this problem, but it should not be ignored. You should get a tooth cleaning and exam from your dentist to make sure the sensitivity doesn’t indicate a bigger problem.
3. Pulp exposure is likely to cause pain.
The pulp is the center structure of your teeth. This part is the soft, squishy, and highly sensitive part of the tooth. There are countless nerves and blood vessels that run throughout the pulp.
4. Cementum is a glue-like tissue for your teeth.
Under the crown, but outside of the tooth is the cementum. This part of the tooth is responsible for connecting the tooth to the gum and jawbones. The cementum consists of a thin layer of tissue.
5. Periodontal ligaments keep teeth in place.
The last main part of the tooth is the periodontal ligament. This part of the tooth is responsible for tightly holding your teeth within your jaw. Without the periodontal ligament, your teeth are likely to be very loose and can fall out easily.
If you have a loose tooth or have already lost teeth, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon can help you with dental implants. These are surgically inserted and become as reliable as a person’s original teeth.