Tooth Anatomy

The structure and function of our teeth play an important role in how we eat, drink, speak, and smile.

The root is the part of the tooth that anchors it into place in the jaw bone.  Like an iceberg, most of our tooth is located below the surface.

The root is made up of several parts; the root canal, cementum, periodontal ligament, nerves, and blood vessels.

The crown is the part of the tooth that is visible when we smile.

The crown is layered with enamel and dentin.  Enamel is the outermost layer and protects the crown both from bacteria and from pressure when chewing.  Enamel is the hardest tissue in the body.  Dentin is the layer of mineralized tissue below the enamel. 

The gingiva divides the root and the crown.  A healthy gingival margin forms the link between where the root meets the crown.

Each of the different aspects of the tooth are susceptible to different conditions.

The crowns can be susceptible to cavities, grinding or clenching (causing the crown to wear down), and tooth erosion (caused acidic foods, chronic dry mouth, or some medications).

The roots and gingiva can be susceptible to periodontal disease and other bacterial infection (i.e., tooth abscess).  Left untreated, periodontal disease can cause tooth loss.

To keep all aspects of the tooth healthy, it is important to take good care of your teeth by:

– brushing twice daily for at least 2 minutes using a power toothbrush
– using floss and interdental brushes twice daily
– visiting your dentist for regular supportive periodontal therapy and maintenance
– limiting your intake of sugary foods and drinks
– quitting smoking
– controlling your diabetes and blood sugar

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