We spend all our lives with them in our mouth, well… Most of our lives, and if we don’t take proper care of them, most of them. That’s right, we’re talking about those 30 white horses on the red hills that are your gums. Most of us know a few things about them, we know they’re great for chewing foods and that they can be part of an attractive smile.
We also know they can cause us pain if they aren’t properly taken care of, and that our parents seemed inordinately concerned with them when we were growing up. Something that didn’t make sense to us until our dental bills were our own. But how many of us actually know what our teeth are made of, or that there are layers to our teeth that serve different purposes? Not many, we’re certain. But we’re here to clear that up, sit down and strap in, it’s time for a voyage through the anatomy of the tooth!
From The Outside In
Our teeth all have three clear layers, starting with the sturdy enamel on the outside. It is the enamel that protects our teeth from the hot and cold of foods, that gives them the strength to crack through nuts and enjoy our favorite foods and is also our first line of defense against plaque and bacteria that can hurt our teeth. How strong is it? Enamel is actually the strongest material our body produces, but it also lacks the ability to regenerate once it is destroyed. For this reason, it is vital to clean your teeth regularly and eliminate the bacteria and plaque that can harm it.
Under the enamel layer is a porous material known as dentin. Dentin is significantly softer than enamel, nine times softer in fact, and is the culprit behind tooth sensitivity. To be accurate, exposure of dentin through damage, decay, or an excess of over-the-counter tooth whitening products can result in dentin becoming exposed which in turn causes your teeth to become sensitive. If you experience tooth sensitivity, its time to call your dentist, your dentin is exposed and aching for protection.
At the heart of your teeth is where you’ll find the softest substance, known as pulp. The pulp is a combination of blood vessels and nerves, and if you have a cavity that gets down far enough to affect the pulp, it will be necessary to have a root canal to deal with this issue. Damage of this sort is often responsible for the extraction of teeth.
One last part to mention, that probably should have come first, is the crown. The crown is the part of your tooth that you bite down on and as might be expected is covered in a layer of enamel to protect your teeth.
Protect It All With Oral Hygiene And Dental Visits
The best way to protect your teeth is to maintain a regular regimen of dental visits and oral hygiene that includes morning and night tooth brushing, flossing, and mouthwash. Once your enamel is gone you can’t get it back, so make sure you protect it!