Tooth anatomy, surfaces and nomenclatures

What do you know about your teeth?

For many, knowledge about teeth is limited.

  • We know that our teeth are useful for eating, that they influence our aesthetic appearance and that we must take care of them.
  • We know that our teeth are “replaced” (primary dentition) during early childhood and that some of them will be weakened towards an advanced age.
  • We also know that our teeth can be a source of discomfort, pain and concern and that a better understanding of this component of the human body is desirable.

So what is a tooth? What is its composition?

The structure of a tooth is similar to that of an apple

In a very simplified way, the general structure of a tooth is similar to that of an apple.

Like a peel, a first layer, the email, covers and protects the visible part of the tooth.

Dentin is the second layer of the tooth. Like the flesh of the apple, this material occupies the largest volume of the tooth. Although it is not as strong as enamel, it is still as hard as human bone. Dentin is the last piece of armor to preserve the life of the tooth because it offers protection to its core. Once attacked by decay, dentin deteriorates very quickly.

Then, the equivalent of the heart of the apple is called the pulp or nerve of the tooth. Located in the center of the tooth, the pulp is composed of tiny blood vessels and nerve fibers making the tooth sensitive to pain.

Anatomy of the tooth

The tooth consists of two main sections: the root and the crown.

The root

The part hidden under the gum is called the root. This part of the tooth is firmly embedded in the bone tissue of the jaw. Like the posts of a fence, the roots keep the teeth firmly in place. The number of roots varies from tooth to tooth: anterior teeth (in the front of the mouth) have a single root while premolars and molars have two and sometimes three roots to resist the pressure exerted on them during chewing efforts.

The crown

The crown is the visible part of the tooth, above the gum, that comes into contact with food.