Most of us have heard from childhood that our hair, our teeth, and our nails are made of the same thing. While it is true that all three contain keratin, the amount of keratin contained within the enamel of our teeth is significantly lower than the keratin in our nails and hair. Our teeth are not bones. Bones have a composition of collagen fibers and bone material which forms small crystals. This, as we will see in a moment, is not the composition of a tooth.
The part of the tooth we see is called the enamel. It is the hardest substance which exists in the body. Our teeth exist in layers. Below the white protective enamel, is the dentin. The dentin is the bulk of our teeth. In the area at the root is the pulp. The pulp is home to our nerves, roots, and blood vessels. The roots of our teeth extend deep into our lower and upper jaw bones, the mandible and maxilla respectively.
The biggest difference between teeth and bones is that bones will mend, teeth will not. Teeth are composed of mostly calcium. They also contain phosphorus and several other minerals. With bones, we see that they are mostly collagen. It is this collagen which allows bones to mend when they are broken. Collagen is living tissue and adds flexibility to the bones. If teeth contained collagen then they would have the ability to repair themselves when breaks or cavities occurred. This collagen is surrounded by calcium which gives bones more strength.
Enamel may not be living tissue, but the dentin and pulp are very much alive. And they will remind you of this everytime you get a cavity. This is why the pain that we feel in our mouths comes from inside the tooth, because the living tissue inside has nerve receptors. If we actually felt from our enamel than every hot, cold, or too sweet substance would cause us great pain, even without a cavity.
Because teeth do not have the ability to self repair, dentists must be familiar with all of the techniques for both the prevention and treatment of teeth. Some of these treatments are cosmetic and others will relieve pain.
The variety of treatments which can be done to teeth range from cleanings and fillings to crowns, implants, and root canals. The use of sealants can prevent teeth from deteriorating further and the use of braces can straighten even the crookest smile. Even though we live in this world of medical and technological advancements, the best treatment is preventative.
Once our adult teeth come in, we do not get a second chance to take care of them and to keep them healthy. Despite the advancement of dental technology, there is nothing like the true smile you were born with. Your smile speaks volumes about how you see yourself, your life, and your world. Shouldn’t your smile be as wonderful and bright as you are?
Copyright Dr. Jean-Jacques Edderai -2015