What are My Teeth Made of?

Teeth are the hardest substance in the human body. Are they bone or something more?

While both teeth and bones are hard and calcium-heavy, teeth are even stronger than bones. Bones contain the protein collagen, which provides a flexible framework that allows them to withstand pressure. Teeth mostly consist of hard, calcified tissue called dentine that is surrounded by enamel–the hard, shiny outer layer of teeth that you brush.

While bones have regenerative power–they can heal if they break–teeth do not have this capability. Tooth enamel doesn’t regenerate, and once a tooth breaks, it’s broken for good.

Underneath the enamel is dentin, a layer of living cells that secrete a hard mineral substance. At the core of the tooth is the dental pulp, the living portion of the tooth containing nerves, arteries, and veins that run through the tooth into the jaw bone. These nerve endings are what allow us to experience a toothache or feel sensitivity when we eat something very hot or cold.

Below the pulp is cementum, a layer of connective tissue that holds the tooth in place by connecting the roots to the gums and jawbone. Finally, the periodontal ligament helps hold the tooth tightly against the jaw.

Many layers, substances, and different kinds of connective tissues keep the teeth strong and in place. Daily brushing and flossing helps maintain healthy teeth, as well as biannual trips to the dentist. Schedule your appointment today!