The Anatomy of a Tooth

Have you ever been in for a routine cleaning and marveled at the scientific pictures of teeth?  That long structure with a pointed bottom can seem so intimidating – after all, to most of us a tooth is just a tooth, right?

For as small as they are, teeth are quite complex! From the roots to the crown, let’s take a brief look at the anatomy of the tooth.


Not to be confused with an artificial crown, this part of the tooth refers to the anatomical area that’s usually covered by enamel. The crown is usually visible in the mouth after developing below the gingiva and then erupting into place.  This is the part that we see when we smile!


The neck is a part of the root that is embraced by fleshy gum tissue.  This is where the tooth starts to narrow, and it’s also where plaque starts to build up right under the gum line.


Roots of teeth are anchored deep in the jaws – maxilla for the upper jaw, and mandible for the lower jaw.  A tooth will usually have one, two, or three roots depending on the type.  These are the pathways for blood vessels and nerves.


Tooth enamel is the hard, outer surface layer of your teeth that serves to protect against tooth decay. In fact, tooth enamel is considered the hardest mineral substance in your body, even stronger than bone!  Still, there are plenty of things that can break down enamel over time.  How many times have you been told to cut down on coffee and soda?


Dentin is a calcified bodily tissue that is protected by the tooth’s enamel.  Everyone’s dentin is a shade of yellow but the intensity varies per person, which is why after teeth whitening treatments some never achieve the desired level of whiteness.


The dental pulp is the part in the center of a tooth made up of living connective tissue and cells called odontoblasts. The dental pulp is a part of the dentin-pulp complex, also known as the endodontium.  Pulp is the part of your teeth with blood vessels and nerves in it.  As tooth decay comes closer to the pulp, people will become more sensitive to hot & cold.  Among other things, pulp helps to form dentin.


Also known as gingiva, gums are the mucosal tissue layer that lies over the jawbones.  Tighter than most other tissues, gums are meant to prevent bacteria from gaining easy access to the root of the teeth.  When you have a bacterial infection of the gum you will have gingivitis. Flossing and brushing are crucial to maintaining the vitality of gums.


Cementum (commonly known as tooth cement) is a calcified substance covering the root of a tooth. The cement helps attach the teeth to the jaw bone by anchoring special ligaments.  It’s tough stuff – hence the name referencing cement!

Keep all of the parts of your teeth clean and schedule your next visit with us today!

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