Elmhurst Root Canal Dentist Explains the Structure of a Tooth

Written by Dr. Scharfenberg on Feb 7, 2012

Most patients in our Elmhurst dental office know that they need to brush and floss at least twice a day to prevent plaque build-up and minimize oral infections. However, many patients don’t truly understand how teeth are structured—they are concerned primarily with the outer exterior of the tooth. This is why so many patients think that if their teeth are visibly white, they must be fine. The truth, however, is that teeth are comprised of many layers that work together. These layers may be damaged or infected even if you can’t readily see a defect on the outside of the tooth—often times these infections may originate between teeth where they’re difficult to detect.


The outer layer of the tooth—the white shiny part—is called dental enamel. This hard shell protects the deeper layers of tooth structure, and allow you to eat and chew without pain.


Below the hard mineralized dental enamel is a layer of dentin. Dentin is also a hard substance, but it is more porous than dental enamel. This means that if the dental enamel is breached by infection or decay, it travels more readily through the dentin to the deeper layer of the tooth.


The dental pulp comprises the deepest layer of the tooth—its filled with nerves, blood vessels, and tissue. This layer feeds the tooth, and when it becomes infected it can be very painful and requires root canal therapy. The root canals are channels that go through the tooth root to the bone and supporting oral structures. When a tooth becomes infected down to the dental pulp, a root canal will clear away all of the infected dental pulp and reseal the hollowed out tooth. This preserves the functionality and appearance of the tooth.


As you can see, a root canal is a necessary procedure that can actually save an infected tooth. Once patients understand how teeth are structured, they can better accept how root canal therapy will help them in the long run. Give our Elmhurst root canal dentists a call for more information!