What Are Teeth Made Of? Are Teeth Bones?
As kids, many of us learn the myth that teeth are bones, just like our tibias or jawbones. But although this myth is quite popular, it’s also incorrect.
In fact, teeth aren’t exactly the same thing as bones. They have to be distinct, as they fulfill completely different functions in our bodies compared to most of the other bones, which give our bodies structure and stability.
Teeth may be made of many of the same materials as bones, but not all. Let’s take a closer look at teeth compared to bones and put this myth to rest once and for all.
Are Teeth Bones?
No, although teeth share many commonalities with other bones in your body.
Like bones, teeth are among the hardest substances in your body because they contain a lot of calcium. In fact, over 99% of the total calcium in your body is found in both your bones and your teeth (the remaining 1% is in your blood).
Therefore, the standard 32 teeth in your mouth do not count toward the total bone count in your body (206).
What Are Teeth Made Of?
If teeth aren’t bones, what are they made of? Your teeth are made up of far more than just dentin and enamel.
The first type of tooth tissue in your mouth is pulp, which forms the innermost parts of your teeth. The pulp itself is composed of various connective tissues, blood vessels, and nerves. The blood vessels supply the nutrients to the tooth to keep it healthy.
Technically, each tooth’s pulp has two subsidiary parts: a pulp chamber that holds the crown and a root canal that lies at the root of an individual tooth. It’s through the root canal that the blood vessels and nerves enter the tooth and reach the pulp chamber.
The dentin is the off yellow substance that surrounds the pulp of your teeth. The dentin makes up most of your tooth matter – it’s roughly as hard as bone. If your teeth gradually become yellow over time, it may be because your teeth’s enamel is wearing down, revealing the yellowish dentin underneath.
The enamel is the whitish armor that protects most of the surface of your tooth. It covers the dentin and forms the outermost layer of each tooth crown. Without enamel, your teeth wouldn’t be able to withstand the high pressures involved with chewing.
Enamel also protects the deeper layers of your teeth from physical wear and tear and from damage from bacteria and plaque. Enamel can’t grow back over time, so it’s imperative that you protect your enamel from degradation by using a fluoride-infused toothpaste, an electric toothbrush, and other tools. Be sure to brush your teeth twice per day, too – it’s the best way to avoid enamel degradation!
The cementum is a layer of material outside your tooth roots but beneath the gum line. The cementum’s job is to hold your teeth in place within the jaw. To accomplish this, cementum layers are also as sturdy as regular bone material.
In contrast to these materials, bones are primarily made of collagen: a key type of protein you can also find in your skin. Bones are also made of calcium phosphate, a kind of mineral. Both compounds together allow your bones to form a soft framework and slightly bend as well as retain strength and durability.
What Are the Three Parts of a Tooth?
The above materials in your teeth are used to make three primary parts of each individual tooth.
The crown is the visible portion of your tooth, covering almost 2/3 of its total structure. In other words, the crown is above the gumline. There’s a little confusion here, as many people assume the crown to be just the top of the tooth, but it really covers the top and most of the rest of the tooth’s visible surface.
The neck of each tooth is the small and narrow portion that lies between the crown and the root. Think of this as the portion of the tooth closest to the gum while still being largely visible rather than hidden beneath the gum line.
The root is the heart of each tooth and forms the remaining one-third of tooth matter. It's typically seated inside your jaw to support each tooth, which ensures your teeth remain sturdy and fixed inside your mouth.
If your teeth are healthy, the roots will not be visible.
Are Teeth Alive?
Yes! Teeth don't show many signs of living activity like other types of tissues – for example, teeth don't directly bleed.
But teeth, although they don’t have external nerves, do have internal nerves that transmit pain and sensitivity when they are stimulated. Furthermore, teeth are fed a constant supply of nutrients from blood vessels located inside the roots and pulp.
The nutrients are used to reinforce and regenerate the dentin of each tooth. Unfortunately, enamel is not able to regenerate or remineralize due to internally digested nutrients (they can instead be remineralized through external means).
However, although teeth are alive, they do not grow like other types of living tissues. In fact, each of us is born with our full sets of adult teeth embedded in our jaws. It just takes time for the teeth to erupt after our baby teeth fall out.
Some people believe that older folks have longer teeth than younger people. This isn’t actually the case. Instead, it’s just more common for older people’s gums to retract somewhat, revealing more of their teeth over time.
How Can I Strengthen My Teeth?
Since teeth don’t grow back once they are damaged or lost, it’s imperative that we take care of our teeth as well as we can. Here are a few ways to strengthen your teeth (while following a good dental hygiene routine as well). Many of these minerals can be absorbed through your food, then brought to your teeth through the blood vessels attached to them.
Calcium is one of the best minerals to target if you want to strengthen your teeth. While it also helps your bones, calcium specifically helps to harden or remineralize enamel, just like fluoride (more on that below).
You can fortunately find calcium in a variety of food sources, like dairy products including cheese and yogurt.
Don’t forget to target magnesium in your diet. Magnesium is a major counterpart mineral for calcium, as it’s necessary for your body to absorb enough calcium for adequate health. Try to eat magnesium and calcium at a two to one ratio.
Magnesium can be found in several staple dietary sources, including dark leafy green vegetables, brown rice, corn, legumes, whole grains, and more.
Phosphates like phosphorus are also key minerals to target as they can help calcium to bind to various tissues throughout the body. Phosphorus, luckily, is found in plenty of tasty foods, including seafood such as sardines and shrimp, plus plant-based foods like soybeans, lentils, and pumpkin seeds.
Phosphorus can even be found in other products like beef, cheese, and pork.
Fluoride is one of the most important minerals to target as well. Fluoride is a key active ingredient in many high-quality toothpaste products, including Supersmile’s Professional Whitening Toothpaste and most of our other oral hygiene products.
Why? Simply put, fluoride can help fill in the gaps of your enamel through a re-mineralization process. Fluoride is one of the only ways to strengthen your enamel if it has been slightly damaged or worn down with time.
For this reason, you should always include fluoride toothpaste in your dental hygiene routine unless you have a reason to avoid it (such as having a reaction to the mineral). Fluoride is also commonly found in drinking water, as many cities add fluoride automatically to their public water sources to improve dental health for their citizens.
If you’re looking for something even more advanced and effective, you’ll want to find toothpaste, mouthwash, and other products with Calprox: a proprietary tooth whitening and strengthening ingredient you can only find in Supersmile’s products.
Developed by Dr. Irwin Smigel, Calprox is revolutionary in large part because it doesn’t increase tooth sensitivity. It doesn’t wear down enamel over time or lead to long-term dental issues. All it does is strengthen teeth and help make them whiter simultaneously.
Fortunately, you can find Calprox in many of our top products, including our toothpastes and our Oral Rinse. For example, our Professional Whitening Toothpaste combines Calprox with fluoride. As a result, it’s a potent solution for remineralizing teeth and whitening them at the same time… but without the same associated risks.
But we don’t just offer toothpaste and mouthwash. We also offer electric toothbrushes, floss, tongue scrapers, and more. Check out our online store for all of your oral hygiene needs!