Most of us don’t think very deeply about the parts of our teeth—other than the need to brush, visit the dentist, and keep ‘em healthy. But teeth are one of the most evolved specialized organs in your body, and they have a huge job: to nourish and keep us alive!

While your teeth are pretty small compared to other parts of your anatomy, all teeth comprise six parts, with each component performing a unique task. Knowing more about your teeth’s anatomy makes it easier to understand why good dental care is so important over your lifetime.

Let’s look at which part of each tooth does what, from outside in:

1. Crown

Essentially the “top” of your tooth, the crown is what we see and what we use for chewing, talking, smiling, and more. Different teeth have different crown shapes. The incisors are those eight front teeth on your upper and lower jaw, used for biting and ripping. Canines, the four pointy ones on either side of your mouth, help you pierce a piece of steak or bite into that apple. The molars in the back of our mouths are flat, helping us grind down food further as we eat.

2. Enamel

Your teeth absorb lots of wear and tear over the course of a lifetime, so they need protection—that’s the job of enamel, the hardest and most resilient tissue in the human body. Not only does enamel protect your crown against the daily chewing, crunching, and munching we do, it also insulates teeth from too hot or cold temperatures and protects the tooth’s more fragile parts, the dentin and pulp. Protecting the layer of enamel on your teeth is critical to preventing tooth decay.

3. Dentin

Think of dentin as the core of your tooth. The layer just underneath the tooth enamel surface, dentin makes up most of a tooth’s structure. If your gums recede, exposing the dentin of your teeth, things are going to get painful. Why? The microscopic tubules in dentin are now allowing hot or cold foods to stimulate a nerve in your tooth. OUCH!

4. Gumline

Tooth, meet gums. At the base of the crown, your gumline covers the largest part of your tooth—and the parts of teeth that keep your tooth alive and healthy. The takeaway here: keep things clean and free of food by brushing and flossing carefully along your gumline to prevent tooth decay. Check out our guide on how to keep your gums healthy to learn more about gum health and preservation.

5. Pulp

This soft tissue is in the center of your tooth and is full of large nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels. The pulp branches out and continues down each root through the canals of the tooth. Its job is to form dentin and to keep blood flowing to help prevent your teeth from becoming brittle.

6. Root

This part of teeth anatomy holds the tooth in place. The root extends into your mouth’s jawbone and makes up about two-thirds of the tooth. The root also enables teeth to withstand the force of biting and chewing.

Each of these parts of teeth plays a vital role in our health—and they’re pretty fascinating too! Now that you’re more tooth savvy, stay committed to keeping them healthy with proper teeth brushing and regular dental checkups.

Questions about your oral health? Your team at CNS Dental is always here to help–be sure to talk to us at your next visit!