20 Jan Anatomy of The Tooth
The tooth is a dynamic organ made up of organic (living) and inorganic (nonliving) tissue. Just like your’s, your pet’s teeth are comprised of different layers. These layers consist of pulp, dentin, cementum, and enamel. Each of these layers contributes to the overall strength and vitality of the tooth in a unique way.
Layer 1 – The Pulp
The pulp cavity is the innermost portion of the tooth. It consists of blood vessels, nerve fibers, immune cells, and collagen. The tooth receives its blood supply and nutrients through the very tip of the tooth root deep in surrounding bone called the apex or apical delta. If the pulp is not protected, the tooth will become infected and ultimately nonvital (dead).
Layer 2 – The Dentin
Dentin is the second layer of the tooth and is created by cells within the outer layer of the pulp called odontoblasts. This layer is made up of numerous tubules that contain fluid as well as a nerve fiber. Dentin makes up most of the tooth and is produced continuously throughout the animal’s life unless the pulp becomes damaged or infected. Dentin can be exposed through chronic wear, fractures, cavities and resorption. Dentin exposure is painful due to fluid shifts within its tubules, nerve exposure, and inflammation of the pulp cavity. Most of us can relate to tooth sensitivity caused by a chip, fracture or cavity. This pain is a result of dentin exposure.
Layer 3 – The Cementum
Cementum is mineralized tissue that covers the dentin layer of the tooth root. This layer helps preserve the tooth root and anchors the tooth to the bony socket. It will increase in thickness throughout the life of the tooth.
Layer 4 – The Enamel
Enamel is the hard, white, outer layer of the tooth above the gum line. It’s the hardest substance in the body and is predominantly composed of hydroxyapatite crystals. The enamel’s job is to protect the dentin and keep the tooth from damage. Unfortunately once this layer is broken or eroded away, it cannot be regenerated. Chewing on hard objects such as large sticks, rawhide bones, antlers, rocks, hooves, bully sticks, and bones can lead to tooth fractures.
Your Veterinary Dentist in Colorado Springs and Castle Pines, Co.
Each layer of a tooth is essential to its functionality and health. If trauma occurs such as a fracture or a cavity (caries), the tooth should be treated quickly so that it remains vital (alive). In cases where a tooth becomes non-vital (dead), treatment should be instituted to avoid pain and infection of the surrounding tissues.
At Animal Dental Care and Oral Surgery in Colorado Springs and Castle Pines, Co., we treat non-vital teeth with root canal therapy or extraction. If your dog or cat is experiencing oral pain or discomfort, call us today and make an appointment to have their teeth and gums examined.
Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (1/10/19) Pixaby