There is more to your smile than you can think of! Your teeth help you to bite, chew, and digest food – they also assist with word pronunciation. But do you even think that each human tooth consists of various parts with unique functions and properties? What are the parts of teeth?

Do you ever wonder about the different parts of your teeth and their functions? What do your teeth look like on the inside, or what are they made of? Well, now you can know more about its structure. 

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Learn about the parts of your teeth that make up your smile and the different types of teeth.

Anatomy of Your Mouth and Teeth

Your teeth start developing when you are an unborn baby. Good nutrition from the mother during pregnancy is an important factor in tooth development. The mother’s diet should contain adequate amounts of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and vitamin C. You should avoid taking certain medicines during pregnancy. These can cause your unborn baby’s developing teeth to be discolored. There are four main stages of tooth development:

  • The first stage of your tooth begins in the unborn baby at about six weeks of pregnancy. This is the stage when the basic substance of the tooth forms. 
  • The second stage – the hard tissue that surrounds your tooth is only formed around 3 to 4 months of gestation.
  • After your child is born, the next stage occurs. It is when the tooth actually sticks out or protrudes through the gum.
  • Finally, your child loses the primary or baby tooth.

Parts of Teeth – An Overview

Your tooth has four main parts, including:

  • Enamel. It is the outer layer of your tooth and the hardest material in the body.
  • Dentin. This is the inner layer and the main part of your tooth, which has the most significant dental tissue.
  • Pulp. The pulp consists of the soft tissue on the inside of your tooth. This part contains the nerve, blood supply, and the ability to produce dentin.
  • Root. The part of your tooth that secures it into the jaw. Also called cementum.

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Out of these, your tooth consists of two major parts. Primarily the crown and the root. In most cases, only the crown of your tooth is visible in the mouth. The root is below the gingiva or gumline and hence is anchored to the bone. 

In some cases, when you have gum problems or have brushed very hard –  a portion of your root might be visible in the mouth. Your root contains a center portion known as the root canal. This section can become involved when you have an infection or tooth abscess. In this case, the treatment of your root canal abscess is completed by removing the live canal material. It is then replaced with a filling material. This procedure saves your tooth from extraction.

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Your teeth are made up of four different types of material, as discussed above. The enamel covers the crown of your tooth and is the hardest substance in your body. The cementum or root is the substance that covers the root of the tooth. The dentin is underneath the enamel and dentin and is much softer. When a cavity is visible in the enamel, it slowly continues into the dentin. 

Parts of Teeth And Their Function

Your tooth has four main parts, and each plays an important role in keeping your mouth healthy.

1 Enamel: It is the hard calcified tissue found on the surface of your teeth. It protects your dentin from acid and plaque. However, because the enamel has no living cells, it can not protect itself from damage and hence you need to take  good oral care of it.

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2 Dentin: Dentin is a sensitive layer of living tissue that communicates with the nerves. If your tooth appear darker, it might be the dentin showing through the enamel. When your dentin is exposed, your teeth may become very sensitive to heat and cold. This is because these food particles come in direct contact with the nerves.

3 Cementum: Cementum is a complex connective tissue that covers your tooth roots. It helps in supporting the tooth by anchoring the fibers of the periodontal ligament. Cementum helps in preventing you from losing teeth prematurely.

4 Pulp: Pulp is the non-calcified tissue at the center of the tooth. It contains the nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels. Your teeth get nourishment from the pulp.

Parts of Teeth – Supporting Structures

There are a few supporting structures that surround your tooth. All of these play a major role in the functioning of your teeth and several different systems of the body. These supporting and surrounding structures of the tooth are referred to as the periodontium. The gum or gingival is an important part of this structure. 

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The gingiva surrounds and supports your tooth other than the crown and all of the bone. In a healthy mouth, your gingiva is pink and pebbly looking. In comparison, people with gingivitis have swollen, red and often bleeding gingiva. There are tiny bundles of fibers known as periodontal ligaments. These ligaments attach the root of the tooth to the bone in your jaw. This holds your tooth firmly in place in the socket.

The gingival margin is the top part of your gum that surrounds the crown of the tooth. And the area of the gingiva between two teeth is referred to as the interdental papilla. The gingival sulcus is the space between your tooth and the gingiva. It starts where the gingiva is attached to the tooth and continues to the top of the gingival margin. This might also be referred to as the periodontal pocket. Your dentist might take measurements of this space during periodontal screening. Healthy pockets or sulcus in your mouth will normally measure 3-4 mm in depth. The bone that surrounds your tooth is referred to as the alveolar process. 

When Will Your Child’s Teeth Come In?

Every child is different. Your baby’s primary teeth begin to erupt between the ages of 6 and 12 months. When your child is 33 months old, all the primary teeth are out. Girls generally tend to have their teeth come in before boys. The following are the guidelines for the eruption of your baby’s teeth:

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  • The first tooth you can see on your baby’s jaw is usually a middle front tooth on the lower jaw. This tooth is called the central incisor. The second central incisor immediately follows this on the lower jaw.
  • Next step, the four upper incisors usually come in.
  • This is followed by the first four premolars. And then the remaining incisors and molars come in.
  • Then the pointed teeth or cuspids appear.
  • After your child reaches two years old, the four, second molars (the last of the baby teeth) appear.

All your baby’s teeth on the upper jaw often erupt 1 to 2 months after the same tooth on the lower jaw. Your baby has a total of 20 primary teeth. Generally, one tooth comes in per month after your child’s teeth have started developing. There is normally spacing between all the baby teeth. This gives room for the larger permanent teeth to come out.

The eruption sequence can vary from child to child. So do not be too concerned if your kids’ teeth do not follow the pattern above. But if your kid’s teeth fail to come in a year after the expected time, you can check with your child’s dentist. Your doctor can guide you about what steps need to be taken.

When Will Your Child’s Permanent Teeth Erupt?

Your child will begin losing their primary teeth at the age of six years. The first tooth that are lost are usually the central incisors. This is followed by the first permanent molars coming in. Your child’s last baby tooth is often lost around the age of twelve. This is generally the second molar teeth. Your child will have a total of 32 permanent or adult teeth.

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Teeth Conditions

Cavities (caries): Also known as caries, are bacteria that evade your tooth. They can be removed by brushing else, they damage the tooth enamel and deeper structures of your tooth over time. Most of these cavities occur on molars and premolars leading to tooth pain.

Tooth decay: It is a general name for the disease of the teeth, including cavities.

Periodontitis: It is often referred to as the inflammation of the deeper structures of your teeth. These could include the periodontal ligament, jawbone, and cementum. Poor oral hygiene could lead to this condition.

Gingivitis: It is the inflammation of the surface portion of your gums. The area around and between the crowns of your tooth. Tartar and plaque buildup can lead to gingivitis.

Plaque: Plaque is a sticky, colorless film made of bacteria and the substances they secrete. It gets accumulated on your tooth surface. Plaque develops very fast on your tooth, especially after eating sugary food. But you can brush it off easily. 

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Tartar: If plaque is not removed over time, it mixes with minerals to form tartar, a harder substance. Your dentist can only clean to remove tartar.

Overbite: It is a disorder where your upper teeth protrude significantly over the lower teeth.

Underbite:  It is a disorder where your lower teeth protrude significantly past the upper teeth.

Teeth grinding or bruxism: Anxiety, stress, or sleep disorders can cause tooth grinding, usually during sleep. A  sore jaw or dull headache can be some of the symptoms.

Tooth sensitivity: When one or more of your tooth become sensitive to hot or cold food or drinks, it may mean the dentin is exposed. This condition causes teeth sensitivity.