What are teeth made of?
Well, for a start, let’s be glad teeth aren’t, as many think, made of ivory or safari hunters would be trying to turn us into pianos.
Fortunately, teeth aren’t made of anything black market traders would be even remotely interested in. Well, not the vaguely normal ones anyway.
No, teeth are made of something appropriately dental – a substance called dentin. Or at least bits of teeth are made of dentin – the softish bit near the middle of a tooth. The very middle of our teeth is made of tissue called dental pulp and everything else is either enamel or cememtum.
And there’s nothing very exciting for trophy hunters to get their hands on there; unless, of course, it’s the tooth fairy.
Now, for your reading pleasure, we will break down your teeth and chew over every toothy element in captivating detail.
But first, let’s put a childhood myth to bed.
Are teeth made of hair?
It’s a fairly disgusting notion, but one many of us have been told since childhood. Surely, if this was the case, there wouldn’t just be blonde or white teeth; there’d be brunette teeth.
No, this crazy idea comes from the fact that, like hair, teeth contain keratin (as do nails). From there, any similarities between hair and teeth dissipate very quickly.
Oh, and while we’re here...
Are teeth made of calcium?
Among other things, yes; teeth are largely made of a calcified tissue called dentine.
Right, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of teeth. We’ll start on the outside and work our way in.
If we can liken a tooth to someone setting forth at the heart of an English winter, enamel is their jacket, their outer coat and, believe it or not, it’s the hardest substance in our body; a full metal jacket if you like.
Enamel is ridiculously tough stuff to the point where it feels no pain if we damage it and no shame if we discolour it with coffee and tobacco. Why? Because there are neither nerves nor blood running through tooth enamel. It has all the sensory abilities of concrete, albeit with a smoother sheen.
Dentin is softer than enamel so, thankfully, it’s the next inner layer of your teeth protected beneath a tough outer surface. Dentin forms the largest part of the tooth and, unfortunately, decays much faster than enamel.
Cementum, a bony substance at the root of the tooth, is mainly there to give the periodontal ligaments of the tooth something to attach to.
This is the part of the tooth that causes all the problems; well, it’s where all the pain comes from anyway. Dental pulp is at the centre of a tooth and is filled with soft tissue, blood vessels and nerves; yes, nerves. If we keep our enamel, dentin and cementum in good shape, chances are those nerves won’t get on ours.