Everyone needs to visit their family dentist once or twice a year. It is imperative to have that annual or semi-annual cleaning and to check for infections, gum disease, cavities and tooth decay. But, do you ever wonder what a dentist is looking at or looking for? The tooth and mouth contain a very detailed structure that all function together to give you the ability to chew, eat, and smile.
A tooth is called a molar. The tooth itself is comprised of the crown and the root. The crown of the tooth is what you can see when you open your mouth. This is also what your dentist can see when he is cleaning and examining your teeth. The root is the part that you typically cannot see. It is not visible because it is in the mouth and covered by your gums.
When your dentist is examining your mouth, he will see the crown. The crown is covered by enamel, which is the hardest substance in your mouth. Enamel is what protects your tooth. It will protect the tooth from everyday activities such as chewing, eating, biting, grinding, crunching, gnawing, etc. It also helps protect the tooth from extreme temperatures. Although it is a very hard substance, enamel can crack and wear down.
Underneath the enamel lies dentine, which is what most of the tooth is comprised of. The enamel protects the dentine so if the enamel becomes eroded, then the dentine is compromised. Compromised dentine can cause increased sensitivity in a tooth. The pulp is centered inside of dentine and is comprised of soft tissue. The pulp contains the blood and nerve supply for the entire tooth.
The outside of the root contains a substance called cementum. This covers and protects the root but is not quite as hard as the enamel that protects the exposed area of the tooth. These are the structures of a tooth. So as a recap, a tooth is made up of the crown and the root. The enamel protects the crown and the cementum protects the root. There are many structures that support and surround the tooth. For example, the gums, or gingivae, are made up of soft tissue around each tooth. The gums are there to protect the tooth and to keep it in its place. It also protects the root of the tooth by surrounding it and also keeping it place.
The periodontal ligament is what is used to connect or hold the cementum to the bone. It contains numerous fibers that are used to keep the tooth in place by securing it to the jaw bone. This also helps keep the tooth in place and works as a shock absorber to keep the tooth from jolting with the heavy action of biting, chewing and eating. The periodontal ligament also has a nerve supply, just like the tooth itself, along with a blood supply.
It is very important to understand the structure of a tooth. The next time your family dentist is examining your mouth, you can now understand what exactly he is looking at!