As your dentists in Austin, we feel that if you have a better understanding of what your teeth are composed of, you will comprehend dental diseases better. To begin, all teeth sit in bone that is covered by gums and are connected to that bone by a microscopic ligament which absorbs forces when you bite. The bone in each jaw is different; the upper jaw is more porous while the lower jaw is more dense. This important to understand the numbing process; when the anesthesia is given, the porous upper jaw allows for faster numbing while the lower jaw takes a little longer.
The tooth is made up of 3 layers: enamel, dentin, and pulp. The outermost layer of the tooth that is visible is called the enamel. It is a translucent layer that is about 1-2 mm thick. Enamel is the strongest substance in the human body; it is made from a mineral compound similar to bone. Enamel has the ability demineralize and remineralize based on the acid levels of your mouth. Fluoride plays a key role in keeping enamel strong by making it more resistant to demineralization in an acidic environment.
Dentin is the second layer of tooth. It is yellow in color and similar in density to bone. Dentin has microscopic tubes running through it all the way to the pulp of the tooth. The porous nature of dentin is the reason sensitivity occurs when dentin is exposed to the oral environment. The tubes in dentin get smaller as you age.
The pulp is the innermost layer of the tooth. It consists of nerves, arteries, and veins that connect the tooth to the rest of the body. Pulp gives the tooth the ability to feel temperature, pressure, and pain. Small portions of the pulp extend throughout the dentin tubes, which is the reason the tooth must be numbed before decay can be removed.