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Teeth Vs. Bones

Published on April 30th, 2017

Teeth are often categorized the same as bones in people’s minds. They are white, dense, and strong, much like bones. They are largely constructed by calcium, much like bones. They have a strong outer casing and a softer interior portion, much like bones. So if it looks like duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck—it’s a duck, right? Teeth must be bones. Well, don’t be so quick to make this judgement. Let’s dive a little deeper into your teeth and your bones and their differences.

Teeth

As mentioned above, your teeth are made up largely by calcium. In fact, they are made of a compound called calcium phosphate, or at least the enamel of your teeth is. Tooth enamel is the single hardest substance in your body. It is almost entirely calcium phosphate, making it incredibly tough. However, it is also devoid of any actual living matter, meaning that when it breaks or becomes damaged, it cannot heal itself.

The portion below the enamel—the dentin—is the majority of the content of each tooth. Under that sits the pulp, which is the soft center of the tooth that contains the nerve. This could be seen as analogous to bone marrow.

Bone

Bone, in contrast, is made mostly of collagen in combination with calcium phosphate. Collagen is actually a protein, as opposed to a mineral (like calcium phosphate). Bones are made of living tissue that regenerates. When a bone is broken or damaged, it has the ability to heal itself.

On the inner part of the bone lies the bone marrow. The bone marrow is a soft, fatty substance which produces blood cells inside the cavities of the bone.

The Difference

Besides some structural differences in their composition, teeth and bones have one major, fundamental distinguishing factor: The ability to heal. The main thing that makes teeth different from the bones in your body is that they cannot self-correct. This is why it’s SO important to practice good oral hygiene habits. Things like brushing your teeth regularly, flossing, using mouthwash, and visiting your dentist regularly all ensure that you are preventing future damage to your teeth—damage that cannot repair itself.

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