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Are Teeth Bones?

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Teeth are strong, white and store calcium, just like bones. Due to these similarities, you may be wondering: are teeth bones?

What Are Bones Made Of?

Bones are mostly made of collagen, a type of protein, explains Pranita Karkala and her co-authors in an article published in 2016, called Collagen as a Biomaterial in Dentistry. Calcium phosphate, a mineral, is the other main component of your bones. Collagen gives the bones a soft framework, while calcium phosphate is what makes them hard and strong.

Bones are made of living tissues, so throughout your life, they are constantly remodeled. Old bone tissue is broken down and removed allowing the creation of new tissue, to replace the old. This cycle keeps your bones strong and healthy.

What Are Teeth Made Of?

Enamel – the hard, outer layer of your teeth – is made of minerals like calcium phosphate. Enamel is harder than your bones. In fact, it is the hardest substance in your whole body. However, unlike your bones, your enamel doesn't contain any living tissues.

Dentin is the tissue underneath your enamel. This bone-like tissue makes up most of your teeth's structure, and it is very susceptible to the bacteria that cause tooth sensitivity and cavities. The soft core of your tooth is called a pulp. The pulp is a living tissue that contains connective tissues, nerves and blood vessels.

Functional Differences

A big difference between a tooth and a bone is how they heal. When you break a bone, your body begins the healing process right away and cartilage starts forming after just a week's time. A soft callus (cartilage) made of collagen forms on the broken tissue, and later, a hard callus forms as new bone tissue is produced.

In comparison, broken teeth don't have the ability to heal themselves. Since your enamel does not contain any living tissue, it can not make a callus to heal itself. So, if your enamel gets cracked or chipped, it will stay that way until your dentist repairs it. Similarly, if you develop a cavity, your tooth can not grow new enamel to fill the decayed area. You will need to see your dentist to get it treated.

Protecting Your Teeth

Since your teeth do not regenerate, it is very important to protect them. Fortunately, maintaining a great oral hygiene routine can help keep your enamel in tip-top shape.

It is vital to control the oral microflora that cause cavities, according to a 2016 publication by the Department of Microbiology at Andhra University in India. Remember to brush your teeth twice per day to remove bacteria from teeth, tongue, cheeks and gums. Floss once per day, too. See your dentist regularly so that if you do develop a cavity, it can be repaired promptly, before it gets worse.

Are teeth bones? The answer is no. While teeth and bones may look similar, they are very different. Your bones can heal themselves when they get broken, but your teeth can not, so it is important to see your dentist if there is tooth decay or if your teeth are cracked or fractured.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.