About Cementum: Function, Types & Role in Tooth Sensitivity

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When it comes to mouth anatomy, you may think of the teeth, tongue and gums. They work in unison to perform critical daily functions, such as chewing, eating and speaking. But there are other behind-the-scenes mouth parts that are important, too. Taste buds play a big role in telling you what foods you like and dislike, and enamel helps keep teeth sturdy while protecting them from decay. Another key player is the cementum.

What Is Cementum?

This connective tissue forms along a tooth's root and helps solidify it by connecting to fibers that support the tooth's place in the jawbone. It is like enamel but softer.

Types and Classifications of Cementum

This connective tissue can be classified by four characteristics, according to the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine. These include location, cellularity, the presence of collagen fibrils and the origin of the matrix fibers. The four common types of cementum include:

  • Acellular afibrillar. Produced by cementoblasts and is typically found as coronal cementum on human teeth.
  • Acelluar extrinsic fiber. Located in the lower two-thirds of the root and plays a significant role in anchoring your teeth to the jawbone.
  • Cellular intrinsic fiber. Located at sites of cementum repair as opposed to helping to anchor teeth.
  • Cellular mixed fiber. It is found on a apical third of a tooth's root and in between the roots.

Role in Tooth Sensitivity and Gum Disease

Cementum loss is one of the main factors leading to sensitive teeth, along with enamel loss and gum recession. The result is dentin exposure. Tooth sensitivity is recognizable in the form of a short or sharp pain in one or more teeth. If you've ever winced from taking a drink of cold water, you might have a sensitivity issue about which you need to consult your dentist.

Gum disease can cause cementum loss, too. During periodontitis, irreversible damage occurs to bones and fibers that hold the teeth in place. In advanced periodontitis, those bones and the cementum are destroyed. This causes a loosening or shifting of teeth. In some cases, it brings about the need for tooth extraction.

Protecting your teeth by means of a diligent oral care regimen is the best way to avoid potential issues with the loss of cementum or, in the worst case, a tooth. Use Colgate Enamel Health Sensitive Teeth toothpaste because it helps build increasing protection against tooth sensitivity and also helps replenish natural calcium.

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What Are The Different Parts Of A Tooth?

Each tooth has several distinct parts; here is an overview of each part:

  • Enamel – this is the outer and hardest part of the tooth that has the most mineralized tissue in the body. It can be damaged by decay if teeth are not cared for properly.

  • Dentin – this is the layer of the tooth under the enamel. If decay makes it through the enamel, it next attacks the dentin — where millions of tiny tubes lead directly to the dental pulp.

  • Pulp – this is the soft tissue found in the center of all teeth, where the nerve tissue and blood vessels are located. If tooth decay reaches the pulp, you usually feel pain and may require a root canal procedure.