(480) 899-52402470 West Ray Road Suite 1, Chandler, AZ 85224

Daniel G. Kline DDS - Chandler Dentist

(480) 899-5240

2470 West Ray Road Suite 1, Chandler, AZ 85224

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Tooth Anatomy 101

Posted by Editor in on October 20, 2017


Most patients have heard about enamel. It’s the outermost layer of the tooth, and although it’s very durable it gets worn down over time. Acidic foods, tooth grinding, bacteria which creates plaque, and normal daily activities such as talking and chewing can all do a number on enamel. Once it’s gone, that loss is permanent. Enamel is comprised of mostly calcium phosphate minerals.

Enamel is the toughest material of the human body—even harder than bone. However, unlike bone, it doesn’t have the ability to heal from damage. However, enamel is just the most exterior layer of tooth. These little workhorses are a complicated system and they are constantly shifting with age and stress.

The second layer of a tooth is the dentin. Dentin is made up of minerals and tubules. It’s nearly ten times softer than enamel, and the primary spot for tooth sensitivity. When enamel wears down and starts to expose dentin, it’s the dentin that’s sensitive to heat, cold and other factors. A crack in the enamel can also expose dentin, even if it’s not visible to the untrained eye.

Finally, there’s the pulp, which is deep in the center of the tooth.


The enamel makes up the “crown” of the tooth, or that flat surface of the molars that are in charge of chewing and necessary for speaking. On the opposite end is the root, which is nestled below the gum line and links teeth to gums. The root is covered in a tough tissue “cementum.” Cementum anchors the tooth to the periodontal (or gum) ligament on one side, and on the other side it’s connected to the dentin. The “tooth neck” is where the root and crown come together at the gum line.

Finally, teeth themselves have four classifications, each with various structures and functions. The incisors are the front middle four teeth, both top and bottom. Their job is cutting food. Next are the canines, named for their pointy “dog-like” shape. They’re used for tearing food. Up next are the “premolars” or bicuspids, named because they each have two cusps for crushing food. In the back are molars with their flat surfaces. They’re great at grinding food.

Taking care of every tooth and every layer is vital for healthy oral hygiene. The first step? Keeping up with those dental check-ups!