By now, you’re probably well-versed in the importance of keeping your mouth healthy. It’s important that you establish and maintain a regular oral cleaning schedule that includes brushing, flossing, and checkups with a professional at least twice a year. But are you familiar with the components that make up your teeth?
The anatomy of your teeth might not seem important unless you are a dentist or a hygienist, but we feel that Indiana residents who understand what makes up their mouths will have a better understanding of how to take care of them. The American Dental Association has a helpful video that depicts each part of your tooth, and below is a brief description of these components. Take note of how they work together and how you can help them stay healthy. If you have any questions about the different parts, be sure to bring it up at your next appointment! We love helping patients be informed.
When you see someone smile, the first thing you likely notice is their enamel. Enamel is the white coating that covers teeth, and it helps protect your mouth. Humans only get one coat of enamel throughout their lives. That’s why it’s important that you take care of yours by removing surface toxins, like food and drinks, after eating and drinking. Enamel can easily become damaged if you are not careful about what you consume. For example, drinking acidic beverages and smoking can wear down your enamel over time. Enamel can also become discolored, looking more yellow or brown than pearly white. Although discoloration doesn’t directly impact your health, it can be embarrassing or distracting. Solutions for treating this concern include professional or at-home whitening products.
Dentin is the layer that rests just under your enamel. Although strong, it is a little softer than the outside of your teeth, and its main function is supporting tooth shape and absorbing pressure that comes with chewing food and biting down. Dentin is simply calcified tissue, and it makes up the majority of a tooth. Like enamel, it protects your teeth’s roots from exposure to outside elements. When it is exposed to heat, cold, or acidic materials, you might experience sensitivity and pain.
While the crown of teeth is what you see when you smile, aka: what sticks out from your gums, your tooth runs deeper than surface level. Closer to your jaw, your teeth have roots. Much like a tree’s roots, they keep the bulk of your teeth in place. Cementum serves as an anchor of sorts. This component is similar to enamel, although much thinner. Additionally, cementum supports the repair and regeneration of teeth and maintains their integrity.
A fourth component of a tooth lies at the center of it’s core. This area, known as pulp, contains your tooth’s nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue, and it is arguably the most vital part of your teeth. As you can imagine, this area is extremely sensitive and should be protected at all costs. Interestingly, tour pulp is where dentin originates. It is fairly common for pulp to become infected and die. In these cases, a tooth has become damaged and inflamed beyond repair and must be removed.
The better you understand how your teeth are formed and operate, the better you can take care of them.