General Family Dentist | Milwaukie, Oak Grove, Gladstone, Happy Valley and Portland, OR

Kevin H. Speer, D.D.S.
2250 SE Oak Grove Blvd.
Milwaukie, OR 97267
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The Anatomy Of Your Teeth

Diagram of Dental Anatomy

We often view our teeth as static chunks of enamel that sit embedded in our gum and jaw, as solid and unchanging as stone. In actuality, our teeth are complex structures comprised of multiple materials arranged in three separate layers. Each layer of the tooth plays an important role in its overall health, and understanding how they work together can make taking care of them easier. If you’ve ever wondered what lay beneath the gleaming outer enamel layer, you’ll find this guide a fascinating read!

Three Layers Of Support

Since we’re so used to thinking of our teeth from the outside in, we’re going to take a slightly different approach. Laying at the center of our teeth can be found the pulp, the living heart of our teeth. Pulp is made of nervous tissue and blood vessels that serve to nourish the tooth and provide it with sensation. Infections in this layer can lead to abscesses, and may take a root canal treatment to address. Root canals are the channels in the lower portion of your teeth through which the nerve root passes. If an infection occurs in this area and is left untreated, it may become necessary to extract the tooth.

Dentin – Firm, Porous, And Sensitive

Between the inner pulp and the outermost layer of our teeth can be found dentin. Dentin is a porous substance that is about nine times as soft as the enamel layer that covers it. Its porous nature makes it more vulnerable to decay, but also allows the inner nerves to communicate and provide sensation to the tooth. Sensitivity to temperature and substances are indicators that the dentin is exposed and dental work is needed.

Enamel – The Vanguard of Our Teeth

Enamel is the strongest substance found in the human body and is made of similar materials to that found in our bones. This durable outer layer is supported by the more flexible dentin and provides us with the ability to speak clearly and consume all of our favorite foods. This layer is the one most subject to decay, and undergoes constant wear and tear from chewing and grinding food. Enamel is constantly in a state of renewal, remineralizing as the acid from bacteria wears away at its surface.

Geography Of The Tooth

Now that we know about the three layers that make up your tooth, it’s time to talk about the outside. The area above the gum line is known as the crown of the tooth, including the sides and chewing surfaces. What is not included is the area known as the root, which is located below the gumline. These roots help secure your teeth in your jawbone, while also providing a channel for nerves and blood to enter the tooth. These channels are known as ‘root canals’ from which the root canal treatment takes its name.

Any further concerns about your tooth anatomy can be addressed at your next appointment, or you can call to speak to our staff in Milwaukie, OR. Our staff is ready and willing to help arrange a convenient appointment time for you and Dr. Kevin H. Speer at the Oak Grove Dental Center. We look forward to serving you and your family with exceptional dental care!

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