11 Oct 2022

What are Teeth Made Of?

Your teeth are made up of four components

Young Girl with a Healthy Smile by Dr Dean Lloyd

Part 1:

1. Enamel:

Tooth enamel is the outermost layer of a tooth, which covers and protects the softer underlying dentin or crown of the tooth. It is made of a tightly compact material called calcium phosphate, which is also the hardest structure in the body. The enamel layer, which lies above the gum, is one of the four bone structures that make up the human tooth. Tooth enamel does not contain any blood vessels or have any nerve endings within its structure. In the development of enamel, the body places down protein chains or frameworks, to which minerals attach themselves, thereby forming the enamel structure.

Tooth Enamel by Dr Dean Lloyd

Section through an upper

front tooth

Tooth enamel forms onto the crown (inside the jawbone) before the tooth erupts through the gum. This gives the tooth crown immediate protection from the outside elements once exposed.

Enamel is exceptionally hard, with a hardness test ranking amongst those of steel and titanium. Unfortunately, that is where the resemblance ends. Tooth enamel, due to its highly mineralized makeup, is somewhat brittle. It is therefore not recommended by most Dental Practitioners for anyone to crunch on ice or hard-boiled sweets. This, in itself, is an indication of why humans should not eat these types of food. Once chipped, the enamel of the tooth will not repair itself, however, small or minor repairs can be accomplished by using fluoride-infused toothpaste.

Enamel thicknesses covering the crown vary from 0.2 mm at the base of the crown to around 2.5 mm over the top of the crown. Due to the thinness of the semi-translucent tooth enamel, teeth derive their color (shade) from the underlying dentin.

Author: Dr Dean Lloyd

Part 2/3/4 coming soon.