Basic dental anatomy

It is important to understand the basic anatomy of a tooth as this has important implications for the treatment of dental injuries. The teeth are embedded within either the maxillary or the mandibular alveolar bone. These bones contain “sockets” for each tooth. A tooth is composed of a root and a crown.

  • The root is attached to the socket via the periodontal ligaments. It is covered by “cementum”. It also contains the vascular “pulp”, which provides both the blood and nerve supply for the tooth.
  • The crown is made up of a tough outer shell of enamel that protects an inner layer of dentin. The pulp extends into the crown, deep to these two structures.

Gingival tissue lines the mandible and maxilla and seals the tooth within the socket.

This diagram shows the basic anatomy of the tooth and supporting structures.

When assessing the severity of an injury to the teeth, it is important to determine which structures are affected. An exposure of the pulp will be both painful and will require immediate treatment of the nerve is to be saved. An athlete with damage to the enamel only may in most cases be allowed to return to play.

Dr Paul Piccininni

Sport, Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry