Are Teeth Bones?
Although teeth and bones are both hard, white and made up of calcium, they are not exactly the same thing. Read on to learn more about the difference between teeth and bones.
What are Bones?
Bones form the foundation of the skeletomuscular system that supports your body. Bones are necessary for holding the weight of your body and facilitate movement in conjunction with muscles and connective tissues. They are also essential for protecting the body’s vital organs.
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What Are Bones Made Of?
Though we primarily associate calcium with the bone structure, bones are predominantly made of collagen, a protein which provides both structural stability and flexibility to allow our bones to move more easily and absorb shock when necessary.
Collagen is a living tissue which allows bones to heal and repair themselves when damaged but also makes them softer than your teeth.
What Are Teeth Made Of?
While teeth do contain calcium and phosphorus like bones, they are not living tissue and will not regenerate if damaged. Teeth are made up of four different components: pulp, dentin, cementum and enamel. The enamel outer layer is what makes teeth harder and more durable than bone to withstand a lifetime of biting and chewing.
Types of Teeth and Their Functions
An adult set of teeth has four types of teeth that perform different functions. If a tooth is malformed, misaligned or damaged, it can impact the way that you eat and contribute to many kinds of health problems. If you are experiencing difficulty chewing and eating, talk with your Telford dentist about correcting any dental issues that may be present.
The four teeth at the front of your mouth on both the upper and lower jaw are called incisors. Due to the flat, tapered edge, they are mostly used for cutting food into smaller pieces. There are two types of incisors, the central incisors which sit either side of the midline (the imaginary line running down the middle of your face and body), and the lateral incisors which are adjacent to them.
Your mouth has two sets of canines; 2 at the top and 2 at the bottom. The canines are located next to your lateral incisors. They are shaped with a single-pointed cusp and have the longest root of all your teeth making them very stable. This shape makes them ideal for tearing food.
Also known as the bicuspids, the premolars are positioned adjacent to and further back than the canines. Each set of teeth contains 8 premolars, 4 at the top of your mouth in the maxillary arch and 4 at the bottom of your mouth in the mandibular arch.
The first maxillary premolar has two roots, while all other premolars have a single root. All premolars can have 3-4 cusps which are used to chew and grind food.
The teeth furthest back in your mouth are your molars. The broad, flat surface of the molars can have between 4-5 cusps and are used to grind food. Each molar usually has a double root; however, the first maxillary molar has 3 roots.
In a full set of adult teeth, there are 12 molars l including wisdom teeth, though all 4 wisdom teeth may not fully erupt in every person.
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What Are the Different Parts of a Tooth?
Your teeth are complex structures with each essential part contributing to the optimal function of your teeth.
The crown of your tooth is the top part and is the only part you can see above your gum line. The shape of the crown is how you can tell which type of tooth it is and the function it performs. For example, the sharp, tapered crown of a canine is used to tear food, while the flat, shallow crown of a molar is ideal for grinding.
The gumline, also known as the gingiva, is the point where the tooth reaches the gum tissue. If you do not brush and floss regularly, bacteria, plaque and tartar can build up in the small crevice along the gum line and irritate the soft tissue leading to inflammation and gum disease.
The root in the lower part of the tooth that is attached to the jawbone. It makes up ⅔ of the tooth’s structure and is responsible for holding the tooth in place. It also contains the root canal which holds the pulp chamber, which contains blood vessels and nerve endings.
Enamel is the hard outer layer of your teeth. It is responsible for protecting the vital structures inside the tooth and prevents bacterial infection. It is highly mineralized, up to 96% of its composition, which consists of hydroxyapatite and can be pale yellow to light grey in colour.
While it is the hardest substance in the body, it is still prone to erosion by acid wear. You can protect your enamel with regular brushing and flossing and avoiding sugary or acidic foods.
The layer beneath the enamel is called dentin. Dentin is more similar to bone in structure and composition, so it is hard, but not as hard as enamel. It is a living tissue composed of microscopic tubules that lead to the pulp chamber. Dentin can become exposed due to enamel erosion or receding gums this can cause extreme sensitivity and pain.
Pulp is the soft tissue at the centre of your tooth and contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue. It is important for sensory input, the formation of reparative dentin in case of trauma, and nourishes the other parts of the tooth to stop the tooth from becoming brittle and decaying.
Your pulp can become infected due to tooth decay, and the only way to remove the infection is to remove the pulp via a root canal. This leaves the tooth effectively dead, though you will retain some function.
If you are interested in learning more about your teeth and how to look after them, talk to your local dentist.