Structure & function of teeth

The tooth has two anatomical parts. The crown of a tooth is that part of the tooth which is covered with enamel and this is the part usually visible in the mouth.

The root is the part embedded in the jaw. It anchors the tooth in its bony socket and is normally not visible.

Enamel The hard outer layer of the crown. Enamel is the hardest substance in the body.

Dentine Not as hard as enamel, forms the bulk of the tooth and can be sensitive if the protection of the enamel is lost.

Pulp Soft tissue containing the blood and nerve supply to the tooth. The pulp extends from the crown to the tip of the root.

Cementum The layer of bone-like tissue covering the root. It is not as hard as enamel.

Structures around the tooth

Periodontal ligament: Made up of thousands of fibres which fasten the cementum to the bony socket. These fibres anchor the tooth to the jaw bone and act as shock absorbers for the tooth which is subjected to heavy forces during chewing.

Oral Mucosa: This is the term ussed to describe the moist tissue that lines the mouth.

Gingivae (gums): Soft tissue that immediately surrounds the teeth and bone. It protects the bone and the roots of the teeth and provides an easily lubricated surface.

Bone: Provides a socket to surround and support the roots of the teeth.

Nerves and blood supply: Each tooth and periodontal ligament has a nerve supply and the teeth are sensitive to a wide variety of stimuli. The blood supply is necessary to maintain the vitality of the tooth.