Meet Your Teeth: Parts of a Tooth

tooth medical anatomy


Teeth are fascinating parts of our body!  Each tooth is composed of different parts that help humans to use them correctly, and to help dentists to monitor – and care for – your teeth.


Crown:  Simply put, the crown of your tooth is top, visible part.  It’s what you SEE when you look at a given tooth.

Neck:  The neck of a tooth is the constricted area between the crown and the root.

Root: The part of the tooth found inside the bone socket.   The root makes up about 2/3 of a given tooth and holds the tooth in place.  The number of roots can range from 1 to 4.


Enamel:  The smooth, shiny, and hard, outer covering of a tooth that covers a crown.  Enamel is harder than bone, and it protects teeth from decay.  It can not, however, repair tooth damage from decay or wear.  Enamel is made up of phosphorous and calcium and it gives teeth their whiteish color.

Dentin:  The layer underneath the enamel that forms the bulk of a tooth.  It is made of living cells and contains microscopic tubules which lead to the pulp.  Dentin is a hard, thick layer, but not as hard as the enamel.  Whenever dentin loses its protective enamel, the tubules allow heat and cold (or acidic or sticky foods) to stimulate the nerves and cells inside the tooth, which causes tooth sensitivity.

Gum: the soft tissues that cover the roots of your teeth.  Healthy gums look firm and pink.

Pulp cavity or chamber:  The space occupied by the pulp.  Pulp is the soft center of a tooth and it contains blood vessels and nerves.  Pulp nourishes the dentin.  If tooth decay reaches the pulp, a person typically feels pain.

Periodontal ligament:  A system of connective tissue fibers that help to hold the teeth tightly against the jaw.

Cementum:  a hard substance that covers the tooth roots and binds the roots of the teeth firmly to the gums and jawbone.

Root canal: The portion of the pulp cavity inside the root of a tooth and a passageway for nerves and blood vessels.

Blood vessels and nerves:  Blood vessels circulate blood to the tooth which provides it with nutrients and oxygen.  Nerves transmit signals (like hot, cold, or pain) to and from the brain.



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