What are Teeth Made of?

Jun 19, 2013

It’s probably not a question that you think about every day: but what exactly is a tooth made of? After all, teeth have to withstand a lot of wear and tear which means they have to be durable, but they’re not bones, are they? (Nope!) Well, lucky for you we’re here to help uncover the mystery of what teeth are made of.

 

The Structure of Teeth

 

Teeth are a highly calcified structure that occur in the mouth of most species of animals. There are four components that make up human teeth:

 

  • Enamel — If you’ve heard of any material in teeth, this is probably the one. This is also the one you see on a daily basis. Enamel is the exposed, white, outer covering of the teeth visible to the eye. Comprised of 96% inorganic minerals, enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. However, that doesn’t mean it’s indestructible, as we all know- pesky plaque can potentially drill cavities through it and reach the underlying layers below.

  • Dentin — Dentin lies immediately below the surface of the enamel or cementum. Yellow in appearance, dentin can have a big impact on the color of your teeth because enamel is translucent.   Dentin is what lies directly on top of the pulp preventing any tooth pain or harm to the pulp.

  • Pulp — The Pulp is the term for the center of the tooth where all the nerves and blood vessels lie. If you’ve ever had a toothache, a nerve in the Pulp is what you have to blame. This part of the tooth is a soft tissue compared to the others, and can be infected (which results in the need for a root canal procedure). The reason you don’t want cavities is because this area of the tooth is so sensitive and crucial.

  • Cementum — While the Enamel of the tooth is the exposed, outer part of the tooth, the cementum, is the unexposed, outer part of the tooth. The cementum functions like, well, cement in order to anchor the root of the tooth in place. A ligament right below the cementum is used to attach the tooth to the jawbone.

And that’s really all there is to a tooth! If you have any questions about the structure of teeth, or would like to schedule your biannual check-up, feel free to contact Noble Smile Family & Cosmetic Dentistry at your earliest convenience!