Did you know that enamel only makes up a very small portion of your tooth?
A tooth is just a tooth…or is it? Actually, your teeth are comprised of four different types of specialized tissues that work together to perform several different job roles. Basically there are three outer hard layers, and one inner material made from blood vessels.
The 4 parts of a tooth include:
You mean tooth enamel isn’t even the bulk of it?
Correct. Your tooth enamel may be the hardest substance in your entire body, but it only covers the portion of the tooth that is above the gumlines. It allows you to use your teeth day after day without them wearing away.
The bulk of the tooth is actually made of dentin. Dentin is the softer tooth substance that makes up the inner portion of the crown, as well as the full length of the root. It is naturally yellow in color, which may show through your semi-translucent tooth enamel, giving it a unique shade. Sometimes you may actually get to see dentin.
If you have receded gums from periodontal disease or aggressive tooth brushing, then you’ll most likely notice a yellow portion of your tooth between the crown and gumlines. This area of exposed dentin is more susceptible to tooth decay, sensitivity, and abrasion because it is far weaker than enamel.
Cementum is a very thin layer of the tooth that covers the dentin along the root surface. It provides a surface area for fiber attachment to hold the tooth into the socket.
The Lifeline to Your Tooth
Inside of your tooth is living nerve tissue that provides the tooth with nutrients and a blood supply that keeps it alive. If tooth decay extends through the crown and into this pulp, the nerve tissue becomes infected and causes the tooth to die. Trauma to the mouth can also do the same thing (although it might take years before it becomes evident.)
When a tooth dies, it becomes discolored. To save the tooth, the diseased nerve must be removed and a filling placed into the nerve chamber. You’re probably familiar with that process already, that is, a root canal.
Treat your teeth well, because they deserve it. One of the best ways to keep your teeth free of disease is by scheduling regular visits with us for exams and cleanings. If you notice sensitivity or pain, your tooth is trying to tell you something; don’t wait.