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What Are Teeth Made of and How to Keep Them Healthy

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A woman smiling with white teeth, looking directly at the camera.

How often do you think about your teeth? Ideally, you may want them to do their job and not affect you as much as possible. Teeth come in various shapes and sizes and are essential for chewing, but a lot is going on in your mouth. Your dentist can help you understand how it all works and support your oral health with regular cleanings.

Teeth are made of four tissues: enamel, dentin, pulp, and cementum. Brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups are some of the ideal ways to keep them healthy.

The Parts of a Tooth

Teeth are primarily composed of minerals, with calcium and phosphate being the most abundant ones. Much like your bones, these minerals combine to create hard tissue. However, unlike bones, teeth aren’t entirely living tissue, and the outer layers can’t heal themselves. Let’s take a look at these layers.


Enamel is the hardest substance in our bodies, even harder than bone, and it acts as a protective shield for the softer underlying layers of teeth. It prevents harmful substances from penetrating the tooth and causing decay or infection.

However, despite its strength, enamel can still be damaged by factors such as acid erosion or physical trauma.


Underneath the enamel is dentin, another hard and dense substance that makes up most of the tooth’s structure. Dentin is also rich in minerals, such as calcium and phosphate. While it’s less resistant to decay than enamel, it’s a living tissue, so it could be replaced.

Experts think dentin is responsible for giving teeth their natural colour, which can range from white to yellowish, depending on age. The thickness and shape of dentin can also affect the overall appearance of teeth. If dentin is exposed due to enamel erosion or tooth wear, teeth can become more sensitive and prone to decay.


The innermost layer of teeth is called pulp, and it contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues. The pulp serves as the “heart” of the tooth, supplying it with nutrients and sensation. If the pulp becomes inflamed or infected, it can lead to severe toothache and discomfort.

In such cases, a dentist may perform a root canal procedure to remove the damaged pulp and preserve the tooth’s function.

Roots & Cementum

In addition to these three main layers, teeth also have a layer of cementum, which covers the roots of teeth and helps them attach to the jawbone. Cementum is not as hard as enamel or dentin, but it plays a crucial role in maintaining teeth stability.

Periodontal disease, which affects the gums and bone surrounding teeth, can cause cementum to erode and lead to tooth loss.

Other Parts of a Tooth

Some other terms you may hear when someone refers to tooth anatomy include:

  • Crown: The top of the tooth and the part used for chewing.
  • Gumline: The place where the tooth and gums meet. A lot of plaque and tartar can build up on the gumline if you don’t brush and floss properly, which can lead to gum disease.
A close-up of a dentist's hands as they use a dental mirror to examine a woman's teeth.

Oral Hygiene Tips

Prevention is one of the most important steps you can take to keep your teeth healthy.

Brush & Floss Routinely

Brushing twice daily to remove plaque, harmful bacteria that can cause gum disease and cavities. Always use a soft-bristled brush and fluoride-based toothpaste to clean teeth. Additionally, flossing every day helps clean away plaque and food particles from between teeth, where brushing cannot reach.

Choose a Variety of Healthy Foods & Drinks

The food and drinks you consume play a significant role in your oral health. Consuming sugary and acidic foods and drinks can lead to tooth decay and erosion. Limit meals that contain excessive amounts of sugar, sodium, carbohydrates, or saturated fats. Instead, choose healthy snacks like:

  • Cheese
  • Nuts
  • Vegetables
  • Non-acidic fruits

Moreover, drink plenty of water. Drinking water after eating can help rinse away food particles and decrease the risk of cavity formation.

Check Your Mouth Regularly

Between checkups, you should watch for symptoms of serious oral health issues. Examine your mouth regularly for any signs of gum disease, such as:

  • Lingering bad breath
  • Bleeding gums when you brush or floss
  • Shiny, red, puffy, sore, or sensitive gums

If you notice any of these warning signs, schedule an appointment with your dentist.

Avoid Smoking, Tobacco, & Vaping

Smoking and using tobacco products can lead to several oral health issues, such as gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer. Quitting these habits is one of the most effective ways to boost your oral and overall health.

See Your Dentist Regularly

Regular dental checkups are crucial for good oral hygiene. Your dentist can detect dental problems early on and offer treatment which may prevent them from worsening. Your dentist can perform a professional cleaning, which helps remove plaque and tartar buildup.

The Canadian Dental Association recommends visiting your dentist every 6 months. That’s a decent baseline, but people with a history of dental problems or who are at high risk of developing them may need to visit more often.

Your Dental Team

Now that you know what your teeth are made of and how to keep them healthy, it’s time to make oral health a top priority. Our team at Arch King West Dental is passionate about all things teeth and ready to help you achieve your smile goals.Book your appointment today and commit to healthy teeth and gums that can keep you smiling for years to come!

Written by Arch Dental

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