Back to School: The Anatomy of Your Teeth

We may not realise it but we owe a lot to our teeth as they enable us to digest food easier, as teeth are able to cut and grind food so that it is easier for you to swallow and digest the food. Despite this, it is estimated that oral diseases affect nearly 3.5 billion people and tooth decay is the world’s most common health condition according to The World Health Organisation (WHO). 

This is largely due to the fact that most low and middle-income countries don’t have adequate services available to large proportions of their populations, meaning people within these countries who are suffering from oral health problems won’t be able to access the support that they need. But in high-income westernised countries such as the United Kingdom and France you are never too far from a dentist. For example, if you are looking for a dentist in Solihull you can perform a Google search and find dental practices in the local area.   

What Are Teeth?

Teeth may look more like bones due to the fact that they are white and are made out of a hard material, but they are actually examples of ectodermal organs. Other examples of ectodermal organs include your skin, hair and sweat glands.

 Teeth are made up of four different components:

  • Pulp: This is the innermost part of your tooth, where your nerves and blood vessels connect and nourish your tooth to the rest of the systems in your body working to keep you healthy.
  • Dentin: Dentin surrounds the pulp and is a hard yellow substance that is as hard as bone.
  • Enamel: Most people have heard of enamel and know that it is important for protecting the health of your teeth, but may not know exactly what it does. Enamel forms the outermost layer of your tooth, it protects your teeth from the stresses of chewing and protects your teeth from harmful bacteria. Enamel also protects your teeth from being hypersensitive to hot or cold foods and drinks. Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body.
  • Cementum: This compound covers the outside of the root, just under the gumline and holds the tooth in place within the jawline.

Common Conditions That Can Affect Teeth

  • Gum Disease: There are 3 main types of gum disease, including gingivitis which is the least severe form of gum disease. If you have gingivitis you may notice your gums are normally especially red. You should still attend the dentist if you think you have gingivitis to come up with an action plan with your dentist to combat the disease. Next, there is periodontitis which is a more severe form of gum disease, which destroys the bone that supports your teeth. This can lead to your teeth becoming loose or even falling out. 
  • Cavities: Most adults who are middle-aged or older have at least 1 cavity within their teeth. Cavities are permanently damaged areas of your tooth, these can lead to tiny gaps or holes in your teeth. This means that bacteria can get inside your tooth and cause further damage to the inside of your tooth, helping promote tooth decay. 
  • Bruxism: Grinding and clenching your teeth can contribute to the erosion of the enamel on your teeth, which makes your teeth more susceptible to tooth cavities. If you have lost the enamel on your teeth you need to take extra care of your teeth to ensure their health.
  • Tooth Sensitivity: Losing the enamel on your teeth can make them more susceptible to being hypersensitive to hot or cold foods and drinks. 
  • Trauma To The Mouth: Injuries from fighting, car accidents and sports-related injuries are all common causes of trauma to the mouth.
  • Tooth Discolouration: Food and drinks such as coffee can lead to tooth discolouration. Smoking can also stain your teeth.
  • Impacted Teeth: In rare cases, teeth don’t emerge properly and get stuck in your gums or jawbone. This mostly happens to wisdom teeth due to the location they grow within the mouth, but impacted teeth can occur anywhere within the mouth.
  • Orthodontic Misalignment: Orthodontic Misalignment is where your teeth are not in the correct position, if you are affected you may have a gap in your teeth or your teeth may be crooked. Your teeth could also be crowded or rotated to an awkward position. Orthodontic Misalignment can make it difficult for you to effectively chew food, this condition could potentially cause pain.
  • Abscessed Tooth: Bacteria can get into the pulp of your tooth, the pulp is the very inner layer of your tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves which connect your tooth to the rest of your body. When bacteria gets inside the pulp it can lead to painful abscesses forming, which are painful when any pressure is applied. Attempting to eat when any of your teeth are affected by an abscess is an extremely painful process.

Teeth Anatomy


The crown is the part of the tooth that is visible to the eye, anything below is covered by the gumline


Roots hold your teeth in place to your jaw, your gumline covers your root which is why you cannot see the roots in your teeth. Roots also anchor your teeth to your periodontal ligament which is the soft connective tissue that connects the tooth to the tooth socket

Why Do We Have Teeth?

Teeth help with the digestion of food, as teeth crush up food allowing your mouth to mix saliva with the ground-up food to allow for easier swallowing and digestion. Most children have 20 primary teeth that usually emerge between around 4 months of age to around 6 years. By the time they are adults they will have 32 teeth on average, however, some people have more or less than this figure.

What Are Teeth Numbers?

You may have noticed your dentist counting to themselves when they are giving you a dental checkup. This is because your dentist is grading each of your teeth, this is usually based on a 0-4 system where 0 means your tooth and gum are in excellent condition and 4 means that there are signs of gum disease. This system can help your dentist keep track of your health on a tooth-by-tooth basis, using this information they can offer you advice on cleaning specific parts of your mouth. Next time you visit the dentist you can compare your tooth health on your last visit to your current tooth health currently.  

How Can I Keep My Teeth Healthy?

Brush Your Teeth for at least 2 minutes twice a day, consider using an electric toothbrush as these tend to help people brush their teeth more thoroughly. Also, use mouthwash before you brush your teeth. Using mouthwash after brushing your teeth can wash away the fluoride that is in the toothpaste from teeth, fluoride aids in the healthy function of your teeth and removes any bacteria. Another thing to consider is how much sugar you are consuming on a daily basis, reducing your sugar intake can help maintain the health of your teeth. Cutting down on things such as energy drinks and fizzy drinks that are full of sugar can contribute greatly to cutting down your sugar intake.


Understanding how important your teeth are for your daily life is critical for motivating yourself to stick to a good oral health routine. Making excuses for not taking adequate care of your teeth is only going to affect you later on in life, which is why it is important to take good care of your teeth