A Crash Course in Dental Anatomy

A Crash Course in Dental Anatomy

HOW MUCH DO you know about the anatomy of your own teeth? Let’s give you a quick overview. We believe that the more our patients know, the better they’ll understand how important good dental health habits are, including brushing, flossing, and cutting back on sugary treats. Our lesson will start at the crown and work down to the roots. The visible parts of our teeth are the crowns, and they are made up of three different layers.

The Enamel

On the outside is the protective enamel layer. It is mostly composed of inorganic materials like hydroxyapatite crystals, which makes it the hardest substance in the human body. It needs to be that hard to chew a lifetime of food.

Enamel’s weakness is that despite being very hard, it is also brittle and vulnerable to acid. It cannot repair or replace itself if it is damaged or eroded too much. That’s why it’s so critical to brush and floss daily and limit the amount of acidic and sugary foods and drinks we consume. Professional cleanings are also incredibly beneficial.

The Dentin

Beneath the enamel is the dentin, which is much more like normal bone. It has a more yellow color than tooth enamel. Microscopic tubules run through it to connect the nerves at the center of the tooth with the enamel, which is how we can detect temperature changes through our teeth. If the enamel erodes, those tubules become more exposed and the nerves get much more input than they like (which is how tooth sensitivity works).

The Pulp at the Center

At the core of every tooth is the pulp chamber, which is where the blood vessels and nerves are. Pulp is the living part of a tooth. As mentioned above, it’s how we feel the temperature of our food. It’s also how we feel pain when there’s a problem with a tooth (so treat tooth pain like the natural warning sign it is and get to a dentist).

Down to the Roots

The roots of our teeth extend deep beneath our gums and are anchored firmly in our jaws. The periodontal membrane serves as a cushion between the tooth and the bone so that the pressure of chewing doesn’t damage them. Unlike crowns, roots lack protective enamel. Instead, they have the gum tissue (when it is healthy) and a calcified layer called cementum. The tip of each root has a tiny hole through which the blood vessels and nerves can access the pulp chamber.

Keeping Teeth Healthy from Crowns to Roots

From the crown of each tooth down to the supporting periodontal structures, we need to keep our teeth healthy, and that means brushing and flossing thoroughly to protect the enamel and gums. Regular dental appointments play a critical role too!

We love seeing our patients’ smiles!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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LaDawn Knicely

Cathy is always amazing. She remembers personal care details about my visit each time which shows me that she is a great listener, she has heard me and follows through with such care.

Cathy Ryan

I had Dr. Whiting for the first time and the practice will be in excellent hands when Dr. McIntire retires in Sept. He was profesional yet had an engaging demeanor when interacting with me. What makes this practice exceptional is the support staff- the welcoming friendliness of the front desk and the business office personnel. In particular, I would like to give high praises to the dental technician, Faith. She is warm, engaging and puts you at ease. She educates you during the whole process and is extremely knowledgeable about the procedures. Without a doubt, this is the best dental practice in the Valley.

Howard Dean

Dr. Whiting and staff did an excellent job. They were respectful, professional, and very helpful during the process of getting some dental implants. They expedited my appointments to get my new teeth before Father’s Day. Very happy with the results!

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Dr. Mac performed a small miracle for me yesterday during my appointment. I was having an issue with my temporary bridge and he squeezed me in with his other patients to fix it. He went to great lengths to help me and I am very grateful. Thank you SFL!!

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I had every intention of shopping around before committing to the extensive dental work I needed. However, after visiting the practice and seeing how dedicated they were to making life changing improvement for their patients, I looked no further. It is a process, starting with evaluations, recommendations, x-rays and scheduling. Beginning with my first appointment I marveled at the kindness, care and professionalism I received. I was taken care of skillfully and gently as we began my transformation. Today, June 6, 2024, I left their office with a beautiful smile without discoloration, wear, and misaligned teeth, and I now have a corrected bite and completely restored teeth that I am proud to show. Dr. Geo is very caring and meticulous, striving to complete his work with skill and perfection. I’m so glad that I came to Smiles For Life.

Charles Kimbrough

Smiles for Life has taken care of my dentistry needs for the last 6 years or so. Other offices in the past have had difficult times fitting me in when I needed an appointment. That hasn’t been the case here. Today, I needed to reschedule my appointment for next Monday, and they had an opening today with Cathy Batton instead of my regular hygienist. Cathy does a great job with years of experience and has a way about her to make you feel comfortable.

Linda Clague

Alex, . Morgan, and Dr Geo are very personable and professional. I felt very relaxed the entire visit.I especially appreciated Dr. Geo's careful mouth and teeth exam. They explained everything step by step and allowed time for questions.


On my first visit I meet Becky, we sat down and talked about everything they do there and she allowed me to tell her about my issues with my teeth and she felt that they could help me with my problem. This is the first time I have ever been able to explain, in detail, about my past and present experiences with my dental problems. She made me feel very comfortable in taking about my care and what I would like to have done with my denture issue's. I have set up my next appointment to have x-rays done and feel very good about that! I'm looking forward to my visit and what they have to say about fixing my problem .

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