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Anatomy of the tooth

Learning Objectives

After going through this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Learn about the anatomy of the tooth.
  2. Identify the tissues/structures that make up and support each tooth.
  3. Learn about the function of each element which makes up the tooth and periodontium.

Watch video

Teeth are one of the most important constituents in the oral cavity due to their involvement in speech and first steps of digestion. 

Each tooth is made up of a crown and root(s). The crown can be defined either as a clinical crown, which is the portion exposed to the oral cavity, or as an anatomical crown, going from the cementoenamel junction to the cusps or the incisal edge of the tooth. Below it, the part of the tooth attached to the surrounding alveolar bone of the maxilla or mandible, is known as the root. The alveolar processes of the maxilla and mandible contain sockets known as dental alveoli. Each dental alveolus houses a tooth, and is bound to it by a specific fibrous joint known as gomphosis or dentoalveolar syndesmosis (a.k.a. peg and socket joint). The root of the tooth is held in place by the peridodontium, which is composed of the periodontal ligament, cementum and gingiva (gum).

Each tooth is composed of a variety of tissues. Enamel is a hard calcareous substance which covers the anatomical crown of the tooth; it is the hardest tissue in the human body. Dentin is covered by the enamel in the crown and the cementum in the roots. Dental pulp is the innermost portion of the tooth, containing nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. It’s found in the pulp cavity of the crown as well as within the root canal(s).

To learn more about the anatomy of the tooth and its importance, take a look at the following video:

Take a quiz

It’s time to test what you’ve learned so far with the following quiz about the anatomy of the tooth. Take this as an opportunity to solidify your knowledge.

Did you find that quiz easier than what you thought? Try our customizable quiz about teeth where you can decide what topics you want to be tested on.

Download the following PDF worksheets and learn the different parts of the tooth.


Browse atlas

To look at each individual structure and tissue of the tooth, take a look at the following gallery:


Key points about the anatomy of the tooth
Main parts Crown: clinical crown (portion exposed to the oral cavity) and anatomical crown (going from the CEJ (cementoenamel junction) to the cusps or incisal edge)
located between the crown and the root. Often identified as the region around the CEJ
portion below the CEJ of the tooth, holding it in place in the alveolar process of the maxilla/mandible.
Enamel Hardest tissue in the human body. Highly mineralized layer covering the dentin
Provides a hard chewing surface and a barrier which protects the tooth from possible physical, thermal and chemical damage
Dentin Calcified tissue with more organic material in comparison to the enamel.
Provides support to the enamel
Pulp cavity Pulp is located in the:
Pulp cavity (located within the crown of the tooth)
Root canal(s) (located within the root(s) of the tooth)
Due to the present nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue, it nourishes surrounding tissue and perceives pain or discomfort in cases of drastic temperature changes, pressure, trauma and possible infections.
Supporting periodontal structures Periodontium: Gum or gingiva (marginal gingiva, alveolar gingiva), cementum, periodontal ligament, alveolar bone.
Attach the tooth to the bone via dentoalveolar syndesmosis (gomphosis)

Well done!

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Now that you know about the anatomy of the tooth, expand your knowledge with the following study unit by learning about the names and notations used for teeth:

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