We all know what a tooth is, right? It’s the hard thing in our mouth with which we chew. It’s got a whitish colored top called enamel and it’s got one or more roots. If you’ve ever had a tooth pulled – or know someone or even a pet who has had a tooth pulled – you’ve seen the “root” of the tooth. That’s about all most of us know about the materials of which a tooth is comprised.
Most people don’t realize that a tooth actually has four main parts. Starting from the inside, you have the section called the “pulp.” The pulp is the soft tissue inside the tooth that provides a spot for the nerves and blood vessels to run through the tooth. Since the nerve does run through the pulp, some people actually call it the nerve, but in reality, it’s called the pulp.
Next, on the outside of the pulp, but still beneath our gums is the “cementum.” The main job of the cementum is to provide a place for the attachment of ligaments and tissue that hold the tooth stationary in the bone of our jaw and face.
Now, imagine the cementum growing up and covering the pulp in the center of the part of the tooth you can see. That section above the gum line, but hidden underneath the outside layer, is called the “dentin.” Its primary job is to protect the pulp and provide support for the outer layer of enamel. The important part to remember about dentin is that it is much softer than the enamel. Because decay can eat through the enamel of a tooth if it’s not fixed quickly, it can reach the dentin and cause much more serious damage to the tooth.
Finally, the outside of the tooth above the gum is the enamel. Enamel is the hardest tissue in the body, and it varies in depth. It’s usually thickest at the cusp of the tooth, which is those bumpy ridges on the top of each tooth that feel like little mountains and valleys to your tongue.
This intricate formation has many areas where issues can arise – from a painful infection of the nerve and pulp area to a cavity that has moved through the enamel and into the dentin. To keep all the layers of your teeth in tip-top shape, make sure to have regular checkups with a skilled and compassionate dentist, like the ones at Bedford Dental Group.