The Anatomy of a Tooth: General Dental Care Information
By Dr. Ribeiro on July 10, 2018
Knowledge means power. That goes for general education, practical skills, and even information about your general wellness. The more you know about how your body works and what it needs, the better you can take care of yourself and avoid harm.
This is why our Clarksville, TN general dentistry practice takes a lot of time to inform and educate our patients. With that in mind, let’s consider the anatomy of a tooth and what this means for common dental care needs.
The Enamel Layer
The enamel layer of the tooth is the topmost part of the tooth’s structure. This bright, white outer layer is extremely durable, which allows people to bite and chew normally. In fact, enamel is one of the strongest substances in the human body.
While enamel is strong, it can still be worn down over time from natural wear and tear. Trauma to a tooth can also result in chips, cracks, and other kinds of damage. Tooth decay and acidic erosion can also weaken enamel and result in compromised teeth.
The Dentin Layer
Below the enamel layer of a tooth is a substance known as dentin. The dentin of a tooth is porous, and the pores of the tooth are known as dentinal tubules.
If this portion of a tooth is exposed, it can result in serious tooth sensitivity. Furthermore, if the dentin is affected by tooth decay, the cavity and damage can spread much faster than it does on the enamel layer.
The Pulp Chamber
Inside of each tooth is a mass of soft tissue known as dental pulp. This soft substance is comprise of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue that were all essential for the initial development of the tooth.
When the pulp chamber is exposed, the tooth is severely damaged. Bacteria in the mouth can infect the dental pulp, causing a root canal infection. This painful condition can be treated through endodontic therapy, though a severe infection may require extraction of a tooth.
The Tooth Relative to the Gumline
With the layers of tooth structure covered, let’s now consider the position of a tooth relative to the gumline.
First there is the crown of the tooth, which is the topmost/exposed portion. This is the part of the tooth that everyone sees, and also the strongest part of the tooth.
Beneath the gumline is the tooth root, which connects the dental pulp of the tooth down into the jawbone. The root should not be exposed, as it leaves the tooth more vulnerable to decay and can result in serious problems with tooth sensitivity.
What This Means for Dental Restorations
For dentists, the nature of the tooth decay or damage will determine the right type of dental restoration to use during treatment. Minor tooth decay will best be addressed with a traditional filling, for instance, while more extensive damage will require inlays, onlays, or a crown.
What This Means for Treating Tooth Loss
If you have to lose a tooth because of serious damage to overall structure or infection, dentists can consider the type of tooth that’s been lost and the surrounding teeth when developing an appliance for treatment. A bridge, denture, or appliance anchored in place with a dental implant may prove most ideal.
Contact Clarksville Smiles
For more information about your teeth and your dental health, be sure to contact the dental care team at Clarksville Smiles. We are here to help you achieve excellent dental health that lasts for years to come.
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“Dr. Ribeiro has been my dentist for many years, and he has always provided exceptional service. His staff is very professional and courteous. They always go out of their way to ensure I have a pleasant experience.” Tina Reed