The Anatomy of a Tooth

Parts of a tooth from Fuquay Varina Dentist

While teeth may not seem that complicated or complex, there’s a lot going on below the hard outer shell and underneath your gums, and each part of the tooth plays an important role in your overall dental health. If you’ve ever wondered about the anatomy of your teeth, our Fuquay Varina dentist is sharing a more in-depth look at the types of teeth as well as the unique parts of the tooth itself.

The Four Types of Teeth

Barring any extractions, adults have 32 permanent teeth, with 16 on top and 16 on the bottom. However, there are four types of teeth, each with a specific role to play when it comes to assisting you with chewing and eating.

  • Incisors: Four on the top, four on the bottom, your eight front teeth cut into food when you bite.
  • Canines: Two on the top, two on the bottom, these are on the outside of your incisors and have slight points. These help tear through foods, particularly meats, when you bite into them.
  • Premolars: Four on the top, four on the bottom, these are located after your canines and have two pointed “cusps” on the surface that help crush food in order to move it from the canines to the molars.
  • Molars: There are 12 total with three in each quadrant of your mouth – top left, top right, etc. Your molars do include your wisdom teeth and have several pointed cusps. These are your largest teeth and are required for grinding food so you can swallow it.

A Note About Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are back molars that typically don’t erupt through the gum until young adulthood, usually between 18 and 25. Often, because there isn’t enough room for them to develop properly, they don’t erupt at all. Over time, they may become impacted, or stuck below the surface of the gum and at an angle, which can cause pain, damage your other teeth, and in serious cases, a cyst or infection can develop. Having regular dental checkups is important to being aware of the development of your wisdom teeth.

The Parts of the Tooth

While there are four different types of teeth, each one has the same parts:

  • Crown – The crown is the visible part of the tooth located above the gumline.
  • Gingiva – This is the gumline consisting of soft tissue that supports the teeth and covers the jaw bone.
  • Root – The root is what holds your teeth in place. It’s embedded in a bone socket deep into the jaw so it can hold up to the force and pressure of biting and chewing. Within the root is the root canal which is a passage for nerves and blood vessels that supply nutrients to the tooth.

The tooth is made up of four types of tissue:

  • Enamel – This is the hard outer covering of the tooth that protects the interior. When the enamel is damaged, a cavity forms.
  • Dentin – This is a hard tissue,  located beneath the enamel acting as a secondary line of protection. Dentin is softer and has a yellowish color, so if enamel has worn away, the tooth may appear discolored. Also, after decay has developed in the enamel, it will quickly erode the dentin, too.
  • Cementum – A third type of hard tissue that lines the dentin of the root, offering protection below the surface and helping to anchor the tooth to the jawbone
  • Pulp – Pulp is the only soft tissue in the tooth, and it makes up the root canal containing the nerve tissue and blood vessels. When there is a cavity, it reaches the pulp and causes pain and sensitivity.

Schedule an Appointment for a Dental Checkup Today

Your teeth are complex structures and it’s easy for small issues like a stubborn wisdom tooth or a tiny cavity to become a big, painful problem. Having regular checkups and cleanings are key to keeping your smile healthy and bright. To schedule an appointment, reach out to us today at  919-552-2431 or fill out our appointment form to get started.