Teeth Layers and Their Function

Your teeth are the strongest parts of your body, and can withstand a lot of pressure from biting down and chewing. However, they can often become damaged or decayed, despite their strength. Oral bacteria can attack them and create holes (cavities) that undermine the structure of your teeth by spreading decay progressively through the layers. But how is the tooth meant to function? What is the purpose of the layers? The structure of teeth is unique, and it’s what enables them to perform their proper functions.

What are the Layers of Your Teeth?

Teeth have four layers. These are the:

  • Enamel—The outer layer of your tooth. This is the strongest part of your body, and your first defense against tooth decay. It is made up of mostly minerals that can be replenished, but when bacterial acid wears a hole in it, enamel can’t be repaired. If you develop a cavity due to bacteria slipping past the enamel, then your dentist is the only one who can fill the tooth to protect the interior layers from the spread of infection.
  • Dentin—The main body of your tooth. It is not as strong as your enamel, and so is more sensitive to decay. Dentin constitutes the majority of your tooth, and is what becomes infected when tooth decay sets in.
  • Pulp—The chamber that contains blood vessels and nerves, which connect to your jawbone through the tooth’s root canal.
  • Cementum—A layer of periodontal tissues protect the roots of your teeth, which aren’t protected by enamel like the top part of your tooth (crown). Cementum helps ensure that your tooth’s root remains secure by adhering to the socket in your jawbone.

The Purpose of the Tooth Structure

Besides the layers, your teeth are also divided into crowns, the parts above your gum line, and the roots, the parts that travel under your gums and into your jawbone. This bone acts as the support for your teeth, and delivers nutrients from the rest of your body to your teeth through the blood vessels in the pulp. These nutrients help keep your teeth strong and healthy enough to fight tooth decay and other dental problems.


As a native Texan, Gregory Wright, DDS, opened his private practice in Southlake, TX in 1992. He and Dr. Victoria Heron are happily accepting new patients from Southlake, Grapevine, Keller, Trophy Club, Colleyville, and all surrounding communities. To learn more, call our office today at (817) 481-7999.