If you recall your grade school science classes, chances are you’ve listed down parts of different body systems. Or, well, anything that has to do with the body. You might’ve been asked to pick apart the anatomy of a human cell, for one. Or maybe the human heart, even. And during those exercises, you probably learned each part has its own functions. So do your teeth. The parts of a tooth and their functions serve a vital role in your masticatory and digestive system. By knowing them, you also know how to deal with any nasty infections that may take their toll on the dental pulp. But what are the parts of a tooth and their functions?
Officially the hardest substance in the body, your tooth enamel is the outermost layer of the tooth. Because of this, it serves as the first line of defense against any invaders that might want to enter the pulp cavity. The enamel comprises a large percentage of minerals to do its job effectively. Of the various minerals that make up the enamel, phosphorus and calcium make up the most of it. Together, they form crystallites that are hard enough to withstand most substances. And while bones are made of 70% inorganic substances, enamel is composed of 99% of these compounds. Typically, your enamel is as thick as a key. But thanks to its composition, it effectively protects your teeth from its environment. That is, until it decays.
When listing down the parts of the teeth, the easiest way is to divide it into two: the crown and the roots. The crown is, essentially, the part of the tooth that we can see. The roots, on the other hand, are located under the gums meet. What is cementum, then? Well, because the crown is the part of the tooth that gets the most exposure, it needs a harder shell to protect it from environmental threats. That’s why enamel is so durable—because it must protect the crown. The cementum, on the other hand, is the layer of the tooth that covers the roots. It’s as hard as bone, which makes sense seeing as the roots anchor the tooth to the jawbone. When the cementum interacts with the jawbones, their fibers interlock to “cement” the tooth firmly in place. Underneath it, a cushion of periodontal ligament prevents internal injuries whenever you bite.
Ever wondered why your teeth turn yellow the older you become? You might have your dentin to thank for that. This inner layer of the tooth is naturally yellow, so when the enamel wears out, it becomes a little more visible. The dentin also comprises most of the tooth, more than your tooth enamel and cementum. What does it do, then? Well, it patches up any damage done via cavities. Unlike enamel, dentin can repair itself, which makes it able to do this. Aside from this, the dentin is also the layer of the tooth that transmits sensation, particularly temperature and pressure.
- Dental pulp
The dental pulp is a network of tissue and blood vessels within the tooth’s inner cavity. It’s the part of the tooth whose function is to feel the sensations transmitted by the dentin. It also serves an essential role during the developing stages of the teeth.