What’s in Your Tooth?

This will be an informative write-up on the structure of a tooth and brief explanations of what goes on inside your tooth. Continue reading to find out more!

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Contrary to popular belief, your teeth are not bones. Nor are they part of bone. They share some similar chemical composition and structural function, but they are not bone. However, they are connected to your jaw bone in a way as highlighted above. I will explain each structure outlined above in detail by sections. Let’s begin from the top!

ENAMEL

The enamel is the hardest substance in your body, even harder than bone. It needs to be – because you will chew and grind with it. It covers the crown of your teeth, but not the roots. It is composed of calcium phosphate crystals called hydroxyapatite. So having more calcium in your diet (milk, fish and green vegetables) can surely improve the strength of your teeth!

Fun fact! Enamel is semitranslucent – meaning that you can see through it slightly. So the colour of dentin underneath it is what mainly determines the colour of your teeth. As such, if you have yellowish teeth, it’s not because you do not brush your teeth (I know you do) – it’s just the natural colour of the dentin showing through.

DENTIN

The dentin lies underneath the enamel, protected by it. Dentin is also made of hydroxyapatite crystals but of lower percentage of crystallisation as compared to enamel. This makes it softer than the enamel shield that protects it.

One defining feature of the dentin is that it has microscopic tubes (dentinal tubules) that run through the dentin layer from the surface bordering the enamel to the surface facing the pulp. When dentin is exposed i.e. enamel has fractured off, the dentinal tubules are exposed to pressure and hydrodynamic changes that cause sensitivity and even pain. This is because the tubules can transmit these forces directly to the pulp which carries the nerve.

PULP

The heart and soul of the tooth – the pulp lies in the core of the tooth and supplies the tooth with blood, oxygen and nutrients through the arteries and veins. But perhaps more importantly it supplies the tooth with nerves – nerves that conduct pain signals whenever decay or dentin exposure is detected.

The pulp is composed of soft and gooey substances – and so it is vulnerable to infection. Infection and inflammation of the pulp is called pulpitis – this is extremely painful and may need root canal treatment to deal with it.

GUMS

The gums are the pink stuff that lies over your jaw bone, and surrounds your teeth. Their main function is provide a seal around your teeth and the bone – preventing invading substances from penetrating the body. The gums are prone to gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis. Periodontics is the specialist area that deals with such gum diseases.

BONE

The bone is part of the jaw bones (maxilla = upper jaw, mandible = lower jaw). It provides an attachment site for the teeth to sit on. There are ligaments called periodontal ligaments that connect the roots to the bone, giving strong hold and support.

ROOT CANAL

The root canal is the space within the roots that connects the pulp to the rest of the body system. Nerves and blood vessels pass through this root canal. In root canal treatment, this area is cleaned, shaped, treated and filled.

That’s it for this post! I hope you enjoyed reading it and found it informative. I certainly enjoyed writing it, and it helped me reinforce my learning! Till the next post, ciao!

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2 Responses to What’s in Your Tooth?

  1. Yi Lin says:

    Very informative!

  2. Pingback: A Sensitive Issue (Pt 1) | Kai Dentistry

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