At first glance, your teeth might appear solid and composed of the same material throughout, but this is not the case. Teeth actually contain several layers, each with their own density, structure, and sensitivity. These different layers also have varying levels of susceptibility to decay and require different procedures for cavity treatment.
The tooth is basically made up of two parts. These are the crown, or the top of the tooth that you can see above your gum line, and the root, or the non-visible part that anchors the tooth into your jaw. Did you know that the root makes up two-thirds of the entire tooth? Reaching deep into the jaw bone, the root is what keeps healthy adult teeth from wiggling or shifting in place.
The outermost layer of the tooth is called the enamel. This durable, white, shiny covering is the tooth’s first wall of defense against plaque and cavities. In fact, enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. This makes sense when you think of how it withstands the everyday pressures of chewing food.
The next layer is called the dentin. Dentin provides structural support to the enamel and the tooth as a whole. It’s made up of a yellow porous material and contains tiny nerve fibers that provide the tooth’s sensitivity to pressure, temperature, and discomfort if the tooth is damaged. If a cavity reaches your dentin, it might cause some pain and progress faster than it would if it were in the enamel.
The pulp is the innermost and softest part of the tooth. It contains the nerves and blood vessels that supply the tooth with nutrients and extends down into the roots of the tooth. If a cavity reaches the pulp, it may become inflamed or infected and quite uncomfortable. In this case, a root canal or pulp canal might be necessary in order to save the tooth.
It’s important to see a dental professional at least every six months to ensure that your teeth are free of cavities. If left untreated, these spots of decay can spread deeper into your tooth, leading to increased discomfort and work needed to restore the tooth to health. If you have any questions, we invite you to call our office today!