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The Anatomy of Your Teeth

computer illustrated diagram of tooth anatomy

Have you ever wondered what lies below the surface of your teeth? Our teeth have many essential structures and each of these structures have a different function. Understanding both the structures and their specific function, is important information to help you take better care of your teeth.

  • Crown: This is the visible part of your tooth that is exposed above the gum line. Crowns may have different shapes depending on their function, and can be classified as incisors, canines, premolars, molars, and, on occasion, wisdom teeth. The adult mouth is made of thirty-two teeth, which means there are thirty-two crowns in your mouth. The crown is responsible for protecting the inner structures of the tooth.
  • Root: This is the non-visible part of your tooth that lies below the gum line. Although the root is not visible, it makes up two-thirds of the tooth’s overall mass. The root’s primary function aligns with its name; that is, it “roots” your tooth to your gums.
  • Gum line: This is the area where the tooth meets the gum. The gum line is important because it distinguishes the crown from the root. The gum line also provides additional support for your teeth.
  • Neck: The neck of your tooth is the area where the crown and root meet on the gum line and is a common location for plaque buildup.
  • Enamel: This is the outermost layer of your teeth and is the hardest tissue in the human body. It is mainly made up of minerals such as calcium and phosphate. Even though it is the hardest tissue, it is not a living tissue meaning that while it can be damaged, it cannot repair itself. Because of this, it is very important to take good care of your enamel.
  • Dentin: Dentin lies just under the enamel and is composed of micro tunnels called microtubules. These tubules lead directly to the center of your tooth, where the nerve resides. When dentin gets damaged, it causes tooth sensitivity as a result of stimulants being able to reach the nerve.  Dentin is nine times softer than enamel and relies extensively on enamel to protect it from outside stimulants.
  • Pulp: Pulp is the softest layer of your tooth, so much so that it is the only part of your tooth that is classified as soft tissue. The other layers, enamel and dentin, are classified as hard tissues because they are calcified, whereas pulp lacks this calcification. Pulp is made up of nerve tissue and blood vessels.
  • Cementum: This is a hard tissue that connects the root of the tooth to the periodontal ligament. This tissue helps to ensure the root remains in the socket.
  • Periodontal ligament: This ligament holds the root of the tooth into the socket of the alveolar bone. In addition to holding the tooth to the bone, it also provides support during tooth movement, sensation, and is involved with eruption processes.
  • Socket: The indented space within the alveolar bone where the tooth resides.
  • Alveolar bone: Jaw bone