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Our Incredible Tooth Anatomy

A diagram of the anatomy of a tooth

At Carolina Family Dental, we know that teeth are amazing! Imagine a living organism that can crush hard objects repeatedly for years and, with proper maintenance, protect the body from some unhealthy substances we put into our mouths. Teeth add structure to our skull and substance to our smile. So, what is this crucial and incredible thing we call a tooth? Let’s look at overall tooth anatomy. 

Most people have experienced tooth pain in some fashion. It could be caused by clenching the jaw when sleeping, usually due to stress, where massive amounts of force are focused on a small surface area on the tooth. It could be created by TMJ, which can, among other symptoms, cause misalignment of the jaw and again put heightened pressure on particular teeth. Or pain can come from gingivitis with the gums, sores, and others. But often the pain comes from inside the tooth. We want to ask why pain comes from inside the tooth; however, the answer requires some understanding of tooth anatomy.


  1. Enamel.

Think of a tooth like the body with vital organs inside. The enamel is an extremely hard and permanent covering that protects those interior parts. When healthy, it’s like Captain America’s vibranium shield. When the enamel is compromised however, due to excessive wear or the onslaught of bacteria, the protection is compromised and all sorts of nefarious matters (and even just a change in temperature) can cause sensitivity. Also know that enamel is the only part of the tooth that is not living matter, so to restore damage professional dental care is necessary. 

  1. Dentin.

Once the enamel is breached, bacteria and other forces move through the dentin, which is a softer composition of tiny tubes and canals. The invading forces can move to the nerves and cell matter near the core of the tooth and cause mild to severe pain. Since some of the foreign materials are acidic or sticky, the damage can grow or become permanent and more destructive with time. As you would expect from healthcare professionals, Carolina Family Dental wants to encourage people to take care of the tooth before the enamel is compromised. Reducing bacteria and harmful substances like sugar or acids is the most effective way to treat a tooth problem - that is to make sure there isn’t a problem at all.

  1. The Pulp.

Even more interior than the dentin in tooth anatomy is the pulp. It is softer than the dentin and contains the BLOOD VESSELS and NERVES that are the life of the tooth and often the sources of discomfort. Sensitivity caused by irritation of the nerves and tissues can give trouble, but infection can lead to extreme pain and require a root canal procedure or extraction. Some of the protective measures the tooth has available would be the enamel or course, but also the CEMENTUM, which is a protective shield like the enamel, but it protects the tooth under the gum line and neck of the tooth. Think of the cementum as the pants that cover the bottom half of the tooth. 

Tooth anatomy is incredible. Think about it. With the way teeth are designed, the body gets a permanent, consistent way to effectively start processing foods, all while protecting the body from infection, adding structure to the face, and creating a smile that is powerfully important to self-esteem and social effects

Carolina Family Dental cares about your health and understands that dental care is one means to a happy, healthy life. We provide restorative measures, preventative care, cosmetic treatments, and education with both our expertise and genuine customer care. If you are needing exceptional professional services, contact us!