The Tooth: Inside Out!

For the next series of posts I’m going to be dealing with a dying or dead tooth.  I know.  Its quite macabre, but they are real scenarios that do happen to people everyday.  Since your West Seattle dentist, Dr. Christine Kirchner wants you to be informed about all things dental, I’m going to cover the anatomy of a tooth first.

A tooth, surprisingly enough, is made up of many parts.  There is the part that you can see, which is the biting surface on a molar, or the incisal edge, which is the straight pointy sharp part if it’s a front tooth.  The canine just has a pointy part. This part on all teeth is called the Crown.   All of your teeth stay where they are because they have roots keeping them in your bone.  They can have just one long root if they are a front tooth to a canine, or up to three roots if they are a molar.

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Each tooth is also made up of several layers.  The white part you see in your mouth is the outermost layer, called enamel.  This is actually the hardest surface in your body, even harder than bone!  Enamel itself doesn’t have any nerves or blood running to it.  The next layer is called Dentin.   It is softer than enamel, and sits directly over the nerve and blood supply called the pulp chamber.  The pulp chamber is where all of your blood and nerves in the tooth live.  I know!  I bet you didn’t even know your tooth had blood and nerves in it!  Surprise!  Inside each root leg of the tooth is a little space called the root canal, which has the blood and nerves from the body running through them into the pulp chamber.  That means there is a tiny little hole at the end of each root where the blood and nerve supply enter the tooth.

On the outside of the roots, there is a thin organic layer called Cementum.  This layer acts like an anchor for little ligaments, called periodontal ligaments, to attach to the tooth and keep it in place in your bone.  There are lots of these tiny little ligaments surrounding the roots of your teeth to keep them in place.  The cementum and periodontal ligaments are often referred to collectively as the periodontal membrane.  

Never knew there was so much involved in a tiny little tooth, huh?  If you’d like to learn more about tooth anatomy, give the office a call today.  Dr. Kirchner will draw you a great picture of a tooth and explain all the parts in detail!