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> Tooth Illustration
|What's inside a tooth?
From the outside, a tooth looks like a hard, solid substance.
But this cut-away illustration reveals that a tooth is
really a complex system of specialized tissues.
Enamel - the shiny, hard, white tissue covering
the tooth is the strongest tissue in your body. It has
to be! Your jaws place as much as 128 pounds of pressure
on your teeth when you chew, bite, clench, or grind.
Dentin - this tissue makes up most of the body
of the tooth. Even though dentin is hard and feels solid
to the touch, it's actually microscopically porous and
needs a covering of enamel or an artificial crown to protect
it from decay-causing bacteria in your saliva.
Pulp - this soft tissue contains blood vessels, nerves,
and connective tissue. The pulp provides nourishment for the
tooth during growth and development. Once the tooth is mature,
the pulp's only function is sensory. A fully developed tooth
can survive without the pulp. If this tissue is damaged, your
dentist or endodontist can remove it and save your tooth with
endodontic (root canal) treatment.
Crown - this is the part of the tooth you can see above
Root - this part of the tooth sits in the bone below
the gum. Believe it or not, the root of your tooth is usually
twice as long as the crown, the part you see above the gumline.
Bone - the roots of your teeth are anchored by bone.
Healthy teeth stimulate and keep bone tissue healthy and vice
Periodontal ligament - like the springs that hold a trampoline
to its frame, this tissue supports the tooth and holds it in
place in the bony socket surrounding the tooth. This tissue
cushions both the tooth and the surrounding bone against the
shock of chewing and biting.
Gum - dentists call this the "gingiva." It
covers the bone surrounding your teeth. When you brush your
teeth after meals and floss daily, you keep this tissue healthy.
That's important, because gum disease can cause bone loss. Gum
disease can also expose the tooth roots to decay. If root decay
affects the pulp, you may need root canal treatment.