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The Anatomy of a Tooth: Dental Health Basics

By Kenneth Malament on June 10, 2018

A cross-section of a toothA tooth has different layers, with the outmost layer designed for the the work of biting and chewing. The inner layer, by contrast, is made of soft tissue. This fact surprises many patients, who never really consider the anatomy of their teeth.

The team at our Boston, MA restorative dentistry practice would like to consider the anatomy of a tooth. We’ll also go over various treatments dentists can use to address tooth decay, dental erosion, root canal infections, and the loss of gum tissue.

Teeth and the Gumline

Before discussing the anatomy of individual teeth, let’s first consider the position of different portions of a tooth relative to the gums.

Above the gumline is the crown of a tooth. This exposed portion of the tooth is the strong, stable portion that is ideal for biting and chewing. Beneath the gumline is the root of the tooth, which helps anchor the tooth into place and allows for stability.

The Enamel Layer

The topmost layer of the teeth is made of enamel, which is one of the hardest substances in the entire human body. This strong, sturdy material allows people to bite and chew without worry of the teeth breaking.

Tooth decay and dental erosion can wear down your tooth enamel. When that happens, it makes the teeth weaker and in the process exposes the underlying structures of your teeth.

The Dentin Layer

Beneath the enamel layer is a substance known as dentin. Dentin is sturdy but porous. These small holes are known as dentinal tubules. The tubules lead into the interiors of the teeth and help a tooth sense heat and pressure in the mouth.

Because dentin is porous and not as strong as enamel, tooth decay and erosion can spread faster through the dentin, leaving a tooth more prone to fractures and serious damage.

The Pulp Chamber and Dental Pulp

Inside of every tooth is a hollow chamber that contains a substance known as dental pulp. This dental pulp consists of a mix of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue that was all essential for the initial formation of the tooth.

If oral bacteria penetrates the outer layers of the tooth and accesses the dental pulp, this can lead to a painful root canal infection. The only way the tooth can be saved is endodontic therapy, which removes diseased dental pulp from a tooth. When the infection is too severe for endodontics, the only remaining option is to extract the tooth is prevent spread of further infection.

Addressing Dental Health Issues

To treat damage to the different layers of a tooth, it’s important to use dental restorations. Fillings, inlays, onlays, and crowns can replace the missing tooth structure and allow a person to laugh, smile, and speak with renewed confidence.

If a patient loses gum tissue and suffers from exposed root structure, that can be remedied through gum grafting procedures. This will use donor soft tissue or artificial gum grafts to restore the gumline and keep the root structure protected and concealed.

Speak with an Experienced Dentist

For more information about your teeth and how we can improve your health and wellness, be sure to contact the dentists of Boston Prosthodontics Dental Group. We will help you with any dental problems you are facing, restoring your smile in the process.

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Boston Prosthodontics Dental Group

50 Staniford St
5th Fl
Boston, MA 02114

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