People often get confused between teeth and bones. Are teeth bones? The simple answer to this question is NO. The reason why People often confuse teeth as bone is due to its composition. Both the teeth and bone have calcium phosphate as one of its important components. Teeth and bone have some commonalities, including being the hardest anatomy in a human body containing calcium phosphate. But the truth is teeth are not bones. Bone gets repaired and regenerated over time which is not a case with a tooth. (1)

A tooth must be either restored or extracted completely to prevent infections or gum disease. Moving further you will understand what are teeth made of and the difference between a tooth and the bone including a few other interesting facts.

What makes a tooth similar to a bone?

  • Both teeth and bones are hard and strong
  • Both are white in color
  • Both contain a massive amount of calcium and phosphorous
  • Both contain nerve at the core. Nerves run through the pulp of the tooth and in bones nerve run through the periosteum
  • Both teeth and bones get nourished by Calcium and vitamin D supplements. (2)

What differs a tooth from a bone?

Teeth and bones share many similarities including being hard, white and strong. The presence of minerals likes calcium and phosphorous are also some among those similarities. People usually have a misconception that teeth and bone are same.

  • Teeth cannot repair or heal itself whereas bone can repair and regenerate due to the presence of protein collagen
  • Teeth are the hardest part of the body whereas bone is the second hardest
  • Teeth are hard and fixed whereas bones are movable
  • Bone produces red blood cells and white blood cells, unlike teeth
  • Bone is present deep inside our skin, but teeth are bare and on display
  • A tooth is made up of calcium phosphate, and bone is made up of collagen protein, calcium phosphate, sodium and other minerals
  • In a lifetime, humans are provided with two sets of teeth. As a child, we have deciduous or primary dentition which fells off gradually as we grow up, and then the permanent set of teeth erupts, but it does not happen in the case of bone (3)
  • Teeth are white and strong due to enamel. Enamel is the hardest and strongest tissue of the human body
  • Teeth do not grow in size after the eruption, but bone can grow to support our bodies

Know your tooth in detail

Parts of a tooth include –

Enamel

It is the hardest tissue of the tooth. It is white colored. It is the outer surface of the teeth. It comprises calcium phosphate, which makes it the hardest tissue.

Enamel is made up of the mineral like hydroxyapatite, which is crystalline calcium phosphate. It does not contain water. It is light yellow or grayish white in color. During mastication, enamel is the only tissue which comes in direct contact with food.

Dentine

It is the tissue underlying the enamel. It is harder than bone but softer than enamel. It is made up of phosphoric apatite crystallites.

It is a calcified tissue which has microscopic dentinal tubules. Pain, pressure, and temperature are delivered to the nerves in the dentinal tubules via channels of odontoblasts.

Exposure of these tissues to hot or cold food may cause pain in the tooth which is known as sensitivity.

Cementum

It is a type of connective tissue. It covers the root of the teeth. The Cementum is light yellow and slightly light in color than dentin. It is avascular and non-innervated.

It has the highest fluoride content than any other mineralized tissue.  It can be formed throughout the life. It binds the root of the tooth with the gums and bones.

It serves as an attachment for the periodontal ligament fibers, thereby holding the teeth in their sockets.

Pulp

It is a soft living tissue of the tooth which lies in the inner space of the tooth called pulp cavity. It is highly vascular and also innervated.

It is the only tissue that is better studied in decalcified sections because it is safely located in dentin. It has a number of cells like fibroblasts, odontoblasts, macrophage, granulocytes, mast cells and plasma cells.

Nerves and blood vessels run through this tissue of the teeth

Periodontal ligament

It is a soft connective tissue which holds the tooth firmly in the jaw. It is attached on one side to the Cementum of the teeth and to the other side to the alveolar bone.

It has both neural and vascular components. Periodontal ligament performs supportive, remodeling, sensory and nutritive function.

Anatomy of a tooth

Anatomically tooth is divided into –

Crown

It is the functional part of the tooth which is usually visible to naked eye. It is covered with enamel. The crown of the teeth has ridges and cusps.

The crown of different teeth may be of different shape.  Incisors have square shaped crown and canines have chisel-shaped crowns.

Neck

It is the junction between the crown and root. It is the part of the tooth where the enamel of the crown and the cementum of the root meets. It is also known as the dental cervix or cervical line or cementoenamel junction.

Root

It is the part of the tooth which is embedded inside the alveolar bone. It is not visible to the eye. It is covered with cementum. The root portion of the teeth may be single, with one apex, as usually found in anterior teeth or multiple, with bifurcation or trifurcation as found in posterior teeth.

Functions of teeth

  • Teeth play a significant role in mastication of food. The first step in digestion of food involves the mouth and teeth. Teeth help in cutting the food, chopping and grinding it further into smaller pieces for better digestion.
  • Teeth, lips, and tongue reused to form words by controlling airflow out of the mouth. For the example, the sound of ‘the’ is made when we slip our tongue against the upper row of teeth.
  • Teeth play a significant role aesthetically and provide facial fullness. An absence of teeth due to any reason affects the facial features to a great extent.
  • Teeth play an essential role in creating facial expression. With the help of teeth, we can show facial expressions such as smile, frown, etc.

Over to you on what are teeth made of

Irrespective of a few similarities between bones and teeth, in a broader sense both are poles apart. Like bones, teeth do not have regenerative or healing property.  So, it is vital to maintain proper care of your teeth and see your dentist if your teeth have caries or decay.

Are teeth bones? People confuse tooth as a bone because of calcium phosphate. Bones get repaired over time which is not the case with teeth