What Are Teeth Made Of?

Brunette woman touches her lower teeth

There are several tissues and layers that make up the teeth in your mouth. But what are they? Read on to learn not only what makes up your teeth, but how many teeth you have and what the different types are called.

Teeth 101

First, let’s discuss the 28-32 permanent teeth that are in a typical adult mouth. There are 4 central incisors (the middlemost four teeth on your upper and lower jaws) and 4 lateral incisors (one on the outer side of each central incisor). Next, you have 4 canines, which are those pointed teeth next to the incisors in each corner of your smile. The 8 flat teeth in the back of your mouth, called molars, are meant for grinding food. You also have 8 premolars, the teeth between your canines and molars. Finally, you can have anywhere from 0 to 4 wisdom teeth, also called third molars, in the very back corners of your mouth. These late blooming teeth are often removed before they erupt to prevent pain, infection, and damage to and displacement of your other teeth.


Enamel is the hardest and most external layer of your tooth. This protective shield is made of calcium phosphate and functions as the first line of defense against dental issues, such as tooth decay.

A tooth diagram showing the enamel, dentin, pulp, cementum, gum, and bone


The next layer is called dentin. Its yellowish tissue contains microscopic tubes filled with water that connect to your tooth’s nerve endings. If the enamel is weakened or damaged, these nerve endings are more likely to become irritated by cold, hot, and pressure, causing sensitivity and pain. Additionally, if your tooth enamel has thinned, the dentin’s naturally yellow color can show through.


Deep inside each tooth is a living inner structure called the pulp. This soft bundle of connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels nourishes the tooth and allows for sensation. The pulp is composed of two parts: the pulp chamber and root canal. The pulp chamber is in the crown of the tooth, while the root canal is in the root of the tooth. Delicate nerves and blood vessels enter the root through a small opening and extend through the canal into the pulp chamber.

Cementum & Periodontal Ligament

The cementum is a layer of connective tissue that covers the outside of the tooth’s root under the gum line. Cementum, in conjunction with the periodontal ligament, firmly attaches the roots of the teeth to the jawbone and gums.

More Questions? We Have Answers!

If you have any other questions about your teeth, or how to care for your oral health, contact us today.

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Helotes Family Dentistry

Helotes Family Dentistry