The Makeup of Your Teeth



Do you consider your teeth to be bones? Some patients do, just like the bones of the jaw or bones in other parts of the body. They are not bones, but yes, they do have materials and minerals that are similar to the bones: calcium phosphate, collagen, etc. However, the teeth behave differently than bones when injured, especially when it comes to repairing them. You need a dentist to repair a tooth, as it can’t regenerate like bones do. When it comes to tooth decay and gum disease, the body can’t fight off those conditions on it’s own. There are many differences between bones and your pearly whites. You need a proper diet and good nutrition to keep both healthy, but a dentist is always needed to repair oral damage so your smile stays intact. At Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies, we can teach you why your teeth are unique and why it’s so important to take care of them!


Makeup and Function of Your Smile

Teeth are white, they’re hard and they last for many years. They’re bones, right? Actually, no. Bones are made of a type of protein called collagen, giving your teeth the framework they have. Calcium phosphate makes up the rest of your bones and is what makes them very hard and strong. The teeth are different than bones and made of hard enamel, but are similar to bone as they are also made with calcium phosphate. The makeup of your teeth include:

  • Hard Outer Enamel – This is basically the shell of your teeth made up of calcium phosphate. It has been found to be stronger than bone and one of the hardest substances in your body. Pretty neat, right? The hard outer part of your tooth (the enamel) generally is a barrier for foreign substances and bacteria and doesn’t allow them inside the sensitive center of the tooth unless you skip on good oral hygiene practices.
  • Inner Dentin Layer – This is the layer right inside the hard outer enamel shell and is bone-like tissue. This makes up most of the structure and shape of your tooth, but is not living tissue like bone is.
  • Soft Pulpy Center – The core of your tooth is actually called the “pulp”. It contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue all in that tiny center. When you have a cavity or other oral problem, you’ll feel pain or sensitivity because of the small nerves inside the tooth.


Different From Bones

Just like the bones, your teeth do store calcium, so getting extra calcium in your diet can help keep them healthier. Bones are made of living tissues, so they are constantly changing and regenerating to keep your body working, especially after an injury. Your teeth don’t do that though, as they can’t repair themselves. You only get one adult set and must take great care of them to keep them throughout your life. Because the teeth have an extremely limited capacity to heal, they need the special touch of a dentist (and your help) to stay healthy. Two of the most common oral ailments are tooth decay and gum disease.


Tooth Decay

You might be familiar with tooth decay, or it’s better-known term “cavities”. It is also known as dental caries. Did you know that the mouth has many different types of bacteria? Some are beneficial for us and aid in breaking down the food we eat so that it can be digested. This is when bacteria mixes with saliva. However, when bacteria mixes with sugar, it creates a sticky acidic substance called plaque. You generally get plaque on your teeth every time you eat, especially when eating very sugary foods. This acidic plaque works to erode the hard outer enamel of the tooth. If permitted to stick around long enough, it will find a way to seep into the center pulpy part of your tooth, where it will then decay the tooth as much as it can. That’s how cavities get their start. How to avoid them? Brushing and flossing at least several times a day.


Gum Disease

Gum disease gets its start with plaque as well (no surprise there), and can be avoided by brushing and flossing often. Gum disease affects more than 64.7 million adult Americans, and that’s not even counting children. When plaque stays on the teeth it not only erodes them, but irritates the gums. Eventually, you’ll experience the first stage (gingivitis) where gums turn red, irritated and bleed easily. Then with progressed gum disease (or periodontitis), your gums will recede from the teeth and the teeth can literally fall out. No one wants that, right? There’s a reason we stress brushing and flossing so much!


Keeping Your Teeth Healthy

Like we mentioned, the teeth can’t fight off tooth decay and gum disease on their own, which is where we come in. Luckily both of these can be avoided with proper oral hygiene practices, so you really are the first line of defense when it comes to taking care of your oral health. When problems arise (as they undoubtedly will), we have many services to doctor your pearly whites and repair them. Come see us at least twice a year for your comprehensive exams and oral cleanings. These are your second line of defense in caring for your teeth. However, if you need gum disease treatment, sealants, cavity fillings and more, we’ve got you covered. Call our Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies office today at (970) 223-8425 to schedule your exam or cleaning!