An endodontist works with the inner layers of the tooth. While most people are familiar with the enamel on the outer surface of teeth, many people are unfamiliar with the basic structure of their inner teeth. If you know more about your teeth, you will have a better understanding of how they work and how to properly care for them.
Enamel: This is the outer layer that protects the rest of the tooth. Enamel is the hardest material in the body, stronger than bone. Unlike bone, it cannot repair itself, so cavities and tooth decay cause permanent damage. The only way to repair these types of problems is with fillings, crowns, and other restorations.
Dentin: This is the softer layer directly under the enamel. If the enamel is cracked or decayed, the dentin can be exposed to outside elements. Because it is connected to the dental pulp with millions of tiny tubes, it can be sensitive to heat and cold. Air passing by can also cause discomfort, and bite pressure on the tooth can cause pain.
Dental Pulp: The innermost layer of the tooth. This layer houses blood vessels and nerves. This is the sensory part of the tooth, alerting you to pain or damage. While it is instrumental in the development of a tooth while it is growing, it is not necessary to a tooths healthy functioning once the tooth has matured. For this reason, infected and inflamed pulp can be removed during a root canal therapy treatment. The ability to feel hot and cold in the tooth will be lost, but the structure will remain healthy. The tooth is fed by other blood vessels to keep it alive, so there is no harm in this treatment.
While an endodontist works primarily with the dental pulp, it is important to understand all parts of the tooth to properly treat any problems a patient may have. It is also necessary to understand how different oral components work together. A patient with an abscess, for example, is dealing with damage not only to the tooth, but to the gum and bone. The infection could even spread to other parts of the mouth or into the bloodstream, affecting the rest of your body.
The more you know about your teeth, the better you will be able to care for them. If you have any questions about your teeth, feel free to ask during your next appointment at NYC Endo. We love it when patients show an interest in their health.