Dentin is a tissue that is part of the teeth. It is the ivory present in the teeth: a yellowish colored and very hard material that, in the root area, is covered by cement, while in the crown it is covered by enamel.
Most of the tooth is made up of dentin, which is among the hardest tissues in the body. Its development process is known as dentinogenesis. Dentinoblasts or odontoblasts are the specialized cells that are dedicated to the elaboration of dentin.
Odontoblasts are pulp cells, that is, they are found in the tissue known as dental pulp, which forms the interior of the teeth, below the dentin. Given its location, it is not easy to obtain viable cultures for study, and this greatly limits the work of scientists. Throughout the tooth structure, odontoblasts go through variations in their shape: in the crown they appear as tall columnar cells, while in the middle of the root, as low columnar.
In the dentin we also find the so-called dental canaliculi, where the cytoplasmic extensions of the processes carried out by the odontoblasts are found. When looking at the dentin through a microscope, it is possible to notice some lines called Owen’s, which respond to the separation into segments that characterizes it.
Among the components of this tissue are collagen and cytoplasmic elements. It should be noted that dentin has a layer of living tissue and tubules that are linked to the nerve of the tooth. If the gums recede, the dentin is exposed and the condition called tooth sensitivity is generated.
The person suffering from dental sensitivity may experience intense pain when ingesting very hot or cold foods or liquids. This is because they come into contact with the dentin, whose tubules stimulate the nerve.
Damage to tooth enamel can cause dentin to be exposed. That is why caries also affects dentin: the infection first affects the enamel and then, if it continues to advance, it reaches the dentin. At this stage the disease causes pain. Without treatment, caries destroys the dentin and continues to progress, eventually reaching the dental pulp, bone, and gums.
In this context, we can proceed to answer one of the most frequently asked questions in the field of dentistry: why is the importance of dentin comparable to that of enamel? Although toothpaste and mouthwash advertisements often refer to this topic to invite us to take care of our teeth, they never finish explaining the real reasons for doing so.
Broadly speaking, the importance of dentin lies in the fact that it helps us keep our teeth white and shiny, as well as protecting them from the dreaded cavities. However, the reality is a bit more complex, since it is not possible to take care of only part of the teeth: if we leave aside the enamel, in the long run it wears down and exposes the dentin.
Enamel is often mentioned as the fundamental component of our teeth, as if taking care of it was enough to ensure good oral health. As can be seen, this is not precise, and therefore it is necessary to know the most common methods to take care of dentin as well. Without a doubt, brushing with toothpaste after each meal is one of the best habits to keep teeth strong and healthy, as long as it is done gently and trying to reach every corner. Other tips include keeping your mouth hydrated and avoiding acidic foods.