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Take a Closer Look at Your Teeth and How We Repair Them

DO YOU KNOW what the parts of the human tooth are? We’d like to give you a quick tooth anatomy lesson because the more patients know about their teeth, the better they will understand the importance of good dental health habits like brushing, flossing, and avoiding sugary treats. Your South San Francisco dentists and specialists can repair every part of your teeth. This guide will also help you understand why they prescribe certain treatments to restore your smile. We’ll start in the crown and work our way down to the roots.

The Three Layers of the Dental Crown

Everything visible of a tooth above the gums is the crown, and it consists of three layers. Let’s take a closer look at each one and what services we have to repair


The outermost layer of the tooth is the enamel layer. Tooth enamel is mostly composed of inorganic hydroxyapatite crystals, which make it the hardest substance in the entire body. We need it to be that way so that we can chew a lifetime’s worth of food!

However, because it’s inorganic, enamel can’t repair or replace itself if it is eroded or damaged too much. It’s also extremely vulnerable to acid. That’s why brushing, flossing, cutting back on acidic and sugary foods and drinks, and regular professional cleanings are so important!

Treatment: If you've lost significant enamel to decay or if it's damaged, or if you're just unhappy with the way they look, we can restore your enamel with natural-looking fillings, crowns and veneers. Made with super strong materials, they can look and feel just like your natural enamel. If you have severe dental fear or anxiety, we also have sedation options to make you feel more comfortable.


The next layer of the crown is the dentin, which is very similar to bone. It’s more yellowish than enamel and there’s more of it in adult teeth than baby teeth (if you’ve noticed that brand new adult teeth seem more yellow than baby teeth, that’s why). Microscopic tubules run through the dentin so that the nerves in the center of the tooth can detect temperature changes. When the enamel erodes, these become exposed and cause tooth sensitivity.

Treatment: To treat tooth sensitivity, we can prescribe a special toothpaste for tooth sensitivity or apply fluoride gel.Your dentist may also suggest a crown, inlay or bonding to restore your dentin and prevent further tooth sensitivity.

The Pulp Chamber

The core of the tooth is the pulp chamber, where the blood vessels and nerves are. The pulp is what makes a tooth alive and how we feel the temperature of our food. It’s also how we feel pain when something’s wrong with the tooth. Don’t ignore tooth pain; it’s the body’s natural warning sign that it’s time to see the dentist!

Treatment: When the pulp chamber becomes infected or damaged, your dentist may refer you to our in-house endodontist for root canal treatment to save your tooth and relieve pain. During root canal treatment the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed. Don't worry, these steps may sound intense, but with modern anesthestia that numb your mouth, you do not experience more discomfort than you would during a regular filling or wisdom tooth removal. We also offer sedation options to help you be more comfortable during your root canal treatment. Your general dentist will then create a crown to further protect your newly treated pulp chamber.

The Roots of the Teeth

Underneath the gumline are the roots of our teeth, which are longer than the crowns and anchored in the jawbone. They are cushioned and held in place by the periodontal membrane between them and the bone. Roots don’t have enamel to protect them; the gum tissue does that (as long as it’s healthy) and they are coated in a calcified layer called cementum. At the tip of each root is a tiny hole through which blood vessels and nerves can reach the pulp chamber.

Gum disease or periodontitis, is caused by a bacterial infection below the gum line. It is important to treat gum disease because it can damage surrounding gum tissue and lead to tooth sensitivity, even tooth loss. Common signs of gum disease include receding gum lines, swollen or red gums and persistent bad breath.

Treatment: For early stages of gum disease, your hygienists can prescribe a deep cleaning or scaling and root planing, to remove bacteria and calculus below and above the gum line. For severe gum disease, our in-house periodontist, or gum disease specialist, can treat gum disease with periodontal trays, chemotherapeutics, gum grafts and LANAP.

Keep Those Teeth Healthy From the Roots to the Crowns!

Every part of the tooth, from the enamel to the pulp, from the crown to the supporting periodontal structures, needs to stay healthy. Keep brushing and flossing to protect the enamel and gums, and don’t forget your regular dental appointments! If it's been more than six months since your last visit, schedule a visit today. It's easy! You can book an appointment online or give us a call or text at (650) 871-1400.



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