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Anatomy of a tooth

Your teeth are the hardest tissue in your body. They are not only for chewing, but also support your cheeks and lips and help determine the shape of your face and help with pronunciation.

A tooth consists of:


The crown

The upper, visible part of the tooth.


The enamel

The hard, shiny white substance covering the tooth. The enamel protects the dentin beneath the crown.


The gingival sulcus

The fold between the tooth and the gum, where dental plaque and tartar may accumulate.


The dentin

Hard tissue covered with enamel. It forms the body of the tooth and surrounds the dental pulp. Dentin is what causes teeth to appear yellow, especially when the enamel layer is thin.


The dental pulp (the nerve)

The soft tissue in the middle of the tooth, containing large amounts of nerve tissue and blood vessels. The pulp contains the nerve ends that transmit pain signals.


The root

The portion of the tooth surrounded by the alveolar bone. The root is covered with cementum, a substance that gives it protection and serves as an anchor for the ligament that holds the tooth into the bone.

Types and functions of teeth



  • In the rear part of the dental arch (back of the mouth)
  • Has several roots
  • Used to grind food


  • Between the canines and the first molars
  • Generally has just one root
  • Used to grind food


  • Between the lateral incisors and the first premolars
  • Has just one root
  • Used to tear and rip food


  • In the front part of the dental arch (front of the mouth)
  • Has just one root
  • Used to bite off food