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Teeth vs. Bones: Are Teeth Made Out of Bone?

Posted on April 30th, 2017 by

Teeth are often put in the same category as bones in people’s minds. They are white, dense, and strong, much like bones. They are constructed mainly of calcium, much like bones. They also have a solid, outer casing and a soft interior portion, much like bones.

So if it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck—it’s a duck, right? Teeth must be bones. In reality, the way teeth are categorized is much more complex than that. Let’s dive a little deeper into the difference between teeth and bones.

Are Teeth Bones?

In short, no, teeth are not bones. While they may look alike and are made from similar materials, teeth and bones have a few distinct attributes that set them apart from each other.

Do Teeth Have Bone Marrow?

No—teeth do not contain bone marrow. Although the red center of a tooth may resemble marrow, this living portion of the tooth is known as dental pulp. Dental pulp is made up of nerves, veins, and arteries that carry blood from the jaw to the teeth.

This collection of nerves is what causes you to feel pain when you have tooth decay or when you’re eating something especially hot or cold. Although dental pulp carries a supply of blood to your teeth, unlike bone marrow, it does not provide red or white blood cells, meaning your teeth lack the ability to heal themselves.

Are Teeth Cartilage?

No, teeth are not made of cartilage. Teeth are much tougher and denser than most types of cartilage. Teeth also contain nerves and blood vessels, which cartilage lacks. If your teeth were made of cartilage, you would be unable to safely chew and eat food in the same way you’re able to with teeth. 

What Are Teeth Made Of?

Teeth are made up of calcium by in large, and the enamel of your teeth is made of a compound called calcium phosphate. Calcium phosphate is incredibly tough, making tooth enamel one of the single hardest substances in your body.

While enamel is a strong material, it is devoid of any actual living matter. This means that when it breaks or becomes damaged, it is incapable of regrowth.

The portion below the enamel—the dentin—makes up most of the substance of each tooth. Under that sits the dental pulp, which is the soft center of the tooth that contains the nerves, blood vessels, and arteries that supply blood and sensation to your teeth.

What Are Bones Made Of?

Bone, in contrast to teeth, is made primarily of collagen. Collagen is actually a protein, as opposed to a mineral (like calcium phosphate). Because bones are made of living tissue, they have the unique ability to regenerate.

The inner part of the bone contains bone marrow. Bone marrow is a soft, fatty substance that produces blood cells inside the cavities of the bone. These blood cells are what allow a broken or damaged bone to heal itself.

What’s the Difference Between Teeth and Bones?

Besides some structural differences in their composition, teeth and bones have one major, fundamental distinguishing factor: regenerative powers. The main thing that distinguishes teeth from bones in your body is that teeth cannot heal themselves. When you break a bone, your body can self-correct, but when you crack a tooth, you need dental intervention to remedy the problem.

This is why it’s so important to practice good oral health habits! Brushing your teeth, flossing, using mouthwash, and visiting your dentist regularly will all help you prevent future damage to your teeth—damage that cannot repair itself.

Your Trusted Chicago Dental Team

If you’re looking for a trustworthy, compassionate dentist, turn to the team at Art of Modern Dentistry. Our dentists have years of experience helping patients with everything from routine cleanings to root canals and cosmetic dentistry procedures.

In fact, we’re the most trusted choice for veneers in Chicago! Reach out today to schedule your free consultation!

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