At Gentle Dental, we’re all about teeth. If we had our way, there’s be a big tooth balloon floating overhead in the upcoming Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in Manhattan. We like to help our patients keep happily chomping away throughout their lives. And we feel it never hurts for our patients to know as much as possible about their teeth. So, here’s a primer on your trusty teeth.
What are the parts of a tooth?
People often think of their individual teeth as just that…teeth. They don’t think about the different areas of their teeth, at least not until something goes wrong and the tooth starts causing them some serious pain. This is Tooth Composition 101.
There’s more to your teeth than you know. Here’s their what makes a tooth:
- Crown— This can be confused with a dental crown, a prosthetic that fits over your upper part of the tooth. The crown actually fits over the “crown” of the tooth. This is the portion of the tooth above the gumline.
- Gumline— This is where the tooth and the gums meet. When you develop problems with your gums, bacteria and tartar begin to move up under the gumline.
- Root— About two thirds of the tooth mass, the roots are the part of the tooth that is embedded in the jawbone.
- Enamel — Enamel is the hardest tissue in the human body, but it is actually porous. That’s why it can accumulate stains from coffee and red wine. Enamel protects the inner tooth.
- Dentin— The layer under the enamel, the dentin has millions of tiny tubes that lead directly to the dental pulp. When a tooth is stained from a reaction to tetracycline or from trauma, it is stained in the dentin. This type of staining can’t be corrected with teeth whitening.
- Pulp— This is the soft center of the tooth. Here there are nerves and blood vessels. When decay invades the pulp you’ll begin to feel extreme pain. A root canal removes all of the nerves and blood vessels.
What are the different types of teeth?
Do you know how many teeth are sitting there in your mouth? If you haven’t lost any teeth or had any permanent teeth pulled, the answer is 32, 16 on top and bottom. You probably have never spent much time thinking of the function of your teeth, but the different shapes make for different purposes. Here are the types of teeth and their jobs.
- Incisors— These are the sharp, chisel-shaped front teeth (four on top and four on bottom) used for cutting food.
- Canines— These are also called cuspids, these pointed teeth (two on bottom and two on top) are used for tearing food.
- Premolars— These teeth have pointed cusps on their biting surface and are also called bicuspids. These teeth (four on top and four on bottom) are for crushing and tearing.
- Molars— These teeth have several cusps on the biting surface. The molars (six on top and six on bottom) are meant for grinding up food.