Everything You Need to Know About Tooth Anatomy

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Dr. Williams, your family dentist in Powell, and the rest of the Frontier Family Dental team understand the importance of educating their patients so that you can be proactive about your oral health. One way we do this is by explaining the basics of tooth anatomy – how your teeth are structured, what they’re made of and how they work. We’ll also discuss common dental conditions as well as how we can help you keep your smile bright and healthy for years to come.

Anatomy of a Tooth

From chewing and drinking to making it possible for us to speak, our teeth play a vital role in our lives. They’re also one of the hardest substances in our bodies. Most adults have 32 permanent teeth (not including wisdom teeth) made up of four different types.

Front and center are your incisors, which are chisel-shaped to help cut up food as you eat. Next are your canines, the pointy teeth located between your incisors and premolars, which grab and tear food. Then there are the premolars or bicuspids that have features of both canines and molars to crush, tear and grind food. Last are your molars, located in the very back of your mouth, that have several points on the surface to crush and grind food.

Each tooth consists of four layers. Enamel is the hard, white outer part of the tooth and is mostly made up of calcium phosphate. Underneath the enamel is a hard tissue called dentin. Next is the pulp, which contains tiny blood vessels, nerves and connective tissues. Cementum, also known as cement, is a firm layer of connective tissue that covers the tooth’s root and is connected to the periodontal ligament.

Common Dental Issues

Because of the hard work our teeth perform each day, they’re vulnerable to a variety of issues and conditions. One of the most common dental issues, cavities form when plaque (a sticky biofilm made up of harmful bacteria) eats through the enamel of your tooth. Also very common is tooth discoloration, which is caused by ingesting acidic foods and drinks over time, such as coffee, berries, balsamic vinegar and red wine. Tooth sensitivity or pain is usually due to erosion of the enamel. It can be caused by a variety of things, such as consuming a lot of sugary and acidic foods and drinks.

Crooked, gapped or crowded teeth are all examples of tooth misalignment. These can all impact your oral health, and can even make eating or speaking more difficult. Bruxism (the official name for teeth grinding) is a condition that can erode your tooth enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to chips and cracks.

Gingivitis is inflammation of the surface of your gums that is usually caused by plaque and tartar buildup. It’s an early stage of periodontitis and can also result in bleeding gums. Periodontitis, aka gum disease, is a more serious inflammation of the cementum, periodontal ligament and jawbone. It’s usually caused by long-term poor oral hygiene.

Importance of Regular Care

Routine care is key to maintaining a healthy smile. First and foremost, brush your teeth regularly, preferably twice a day. This ensures that any plaque buildup is removed before it can harden into tartar. (Tartar can only be removed with a professional cleaning.) You should also floss daily to remove any food particles between your teeth.

Be sure to schedule routine cleanings and checkups with your dental office in Powell, Frontier Family Dental. Dr. Williams and his team offer patients a wide range of preventative, restorative and cosmetic dental treatments and services. Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us today.