Understanding the Anatomy of a Tooth By Jin Ha Joung on September 19, 2018

A cross-sectional drawing of a tooth, showing all of its layersYour tooth is made up of layers of hard and soft tissues. Understanding the anatomy of a tooth can help you understand the importance of hygiene routines and why certain procedures may need to be performed to address a dental problem.

If you have a damaged tooth, the team at Ridgewood Dental Associates provides restorative dental procedures. We also offer prosthodontic treatments for patients who are missing one or more teeth. Read on to learn about the different parts of your tooth and the treatments used to restore each part, and then contact our Ridgewood, NJ practice to schedule your consultation.

The Crown

This is the part of the tooth that is exposed, uncovered by gum tissue. If your crown is significantly damaged or decayed, it will be repaired with a dental crown. This restoration, sometimes called a cap, fully encircles the tooth to give it strength.


One of the hardest tissues in the body, enamel fully covers the crown to protect the softer inner layers of the tooth. Enamel cannot repair itself like other tissues in the body.

When enamel breaks down over time or sustains a trauma, it exposes the inner tooth tissue. This causes discomfort and other complications.

If the damage to the enamel is mild, it can be corrected with dental bonding or a standard filling. Moderate damage may require an onlay or inlay.


A hard tissue that is also porous, dentin is located just beneath the enamel. Since dentin is comprised of tubules that connect to nerves, this is the portion of the tooth that causes sensitivity to temperature.


Cementum is another hard tissue; it surrounds the tooth root. Connected to the periodontal ligament, the cementum helps maintain tooth placement inside the socket.

The Pulp Chamber

The tooth’s soft tissue, including nerves and blood vessels that nourish the tooth, is located within the pulp chamber. This section is in the interior of the tooth, beneath the dentin.

If an infection or cavity penetrates the pulp chamber, the standard method of treatment is root canal therapy, followed by the placement of a dental crown.

Tooth Roots

Most of your tooth is actually below the gum line. In fact, over half of the tooth’s structure consists of the root. Secured in place by the cementum and periodontal ligaments, the roots are embedded in the jaw, stimulating the adjunct bone material.

When a tooth root is missing for too long, the lack of stimulation to the bone will cause jawbone atrophy. The only treatment that halts jawbone loss is a dental implant. These titanium posts are secured at the jawbone, essentially serving the function of a tooth root.

Do You Need a Restorative Treatment?

Hopefully the above information gives you a better sense of why you may need a particular restorative treatment. If you do need a procedure to correct a dental problem, don’t delay. The earlier the treatment, the better the prognosis and the more time and money saved in the long run. Give us a call at (201) 652-2474 or reach out to us online.

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Drs. Jin Ha Joung, Mark Samani, and Min-Hee Cho.

Ridgewood Dental Associates

At Ridgewood Dental Associates in Bergen County, we pride ourselves on being able to handle virtually all of your needs in a single location. Dr. Jin Ha Joung, Dr. Mark Samani, and Dr. Min-Hee Cho are affiliated with:

  • American College of Prosthodontists
  • American Academy of Periodontology
  • Academy of Osseointegration
  • American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine
  • American Dental Association

For more information about our services, contact our office or call (201) 652-2474 today.

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