What are teeth made of?

Are teeth bones or made of another material? In this article we tell you in detail everything you need to know about dental pieces.

Last update: 23 January, 2022

Dental pieces play a fundamental role in daily life. To eat, speak and smile these elements intervene. But have you ever wondered what teeth are made of?

Not everyone knows how these structures of the mouth are formed. Even many people assume that dental elements are bones.

In this article we explain what teeth are made of. Well, that way you can take better care of them and keep this part of the mouth beautiful and healthy.

What is a tooth?

Before detailing what teeth are made of, it is necessary to clarify what they are. Is about small calcified anatomical organs located in the oral cavity.

Together, they form the dental system, being part of the first portion of the digestive system. Its main function is chewing and grinding food. Although as we anticipated, they also intervene in the phonation and in the appearance of people.

Each dental element consists of two identifiable anatomical portions that are the following:

  • Crown: It is the visible part of the dental element. allow chewing
  • Root: It is the covered portion of the tooth that is housed inside the bone and gives support to the structure. Depending on the dental piece, they can be one or several roots.

The union of both parts is what is called neck of the tooth. It is located at the edge of the gum.

Each tooth is nestled inside a tooth socketwithin the maxillary bones. It is held attached to the bone structure through a joint called gomphosis. This consists of multiple collagen fibers that extend between the root of the tooth and the bone wall, constituting the periodontal ligament.

types of teeth

Humans are bifiodonts. This means that they have two sets of teeth during their lifetime.

The first set of dental elements are the deciduous pieces. They are also called baby teeth, primary or temporary.

There are a total of 20 dental elements. They appear in the baby’s mouth progressively from approximately 6 months to 3 years. Then, from ages 6 to 12 or 13, they fall out to be replaced by the permanent dentition.

The permanent dentition consists of 32 teeth, including the wisdom teeth that erupt between the ages of 17 and 21. Although not all adults have them.

Not all dental pieces are the same. in the denture, each tooth plays a particular role and they are made for a specific function during chewing.


They are the sharp, square teeth at the front of the mouth. Its main function is to cut food when we bite

There are four upper and four lower. They are called central Y sides, according to its proximity to the midline of the face.


They are located behind the incisors. They are sharp and pointed teeth. In colloquial terms they are usually called fangs. They play an important role in breaking down food.


The premolars are located behind the canines and in front of the molars. They are also called bicuspids, since they have a chewing surface with two points. Its function is to grind and grind food.

There are two on each side of each arcade, with a total of 8: 4 upper and 4 lower. These elements are only present in the permanent or adult dentition. During the dental replacement they replace the milk molars.


The molars are located in the most posterior part of the mouth, behind the premolars. Their crowns have a large occlusal surface with grooves and cusps. This allows chewing, vigorously grinding the food.

In the adult mouth there may be 12 molars in total: 6 in each arch, 3 on each side. From front to back they are the first molar, the second molar, and the third molar, or wisdom tooth.

Wisdom teeth or wisdom teeth do not erupt in all people, because some patients do not have them. Other times, the dentist must extract them due to lack of space in the jaw, malpositions or due to complications such as infections, pain or displacement of other teeth.

Each tooth has a function in the mouth. The lack of an element or its bad position affects the rest.

What are teeth made of?

Now that we have clarified what they are and the different types of dental pieces, it is time to comment on what teeth are made of. Its composition includes different layers of tissues responsible for the consistency, resistance and appearance of the dental elements.


tooth enamel It is the outermost part of the crown of the teeth. This tissue is made up of hydroxyapatite, a mineral of extreme resistance, and proteins. This composition gives tooth enamel the characteristic of being the hardest tissue in the human body.

Its main function is to act as a protective barrier for the innermost tissues. Thus, pathogenic agents, the forces of chewing, the friction of food or very cold or very hot foods are received by this strong and resistant layer.

However, despite his great resistance, enamel is vulnerable to losing minerals. The most common cause is demineralization caused by acids generated by bacteria in the mouth, which we know as cavities.

The passage of time, the consumption of highly acidic foods or drinks, or exposure to abrasive substances can also wear down the fabric. And you should know that tooth enamel, not having living cells, it is unable to repair and regenerate itself.

A curious fact about enamel is that it is translucent. The yellowish white or grayish coloration of the teeth depends on the shade of the dentin below.


Dentin is another hard tissue that makes up the tooth. Makes up most of the tooth structure being located both in the coronary portion, inside the enamel, and in the root, subjacent to the cement.

It is made up of a hard material similar to bone. It is mainly constituted by a qualified collagen matrix. Inside it has microscopic tubules or ducts that connect it to the pulp.

Its main function is to protect the dental pulp. In addition, its elastic properties help resist shock or trauma forces, protecting the enamel against fractures.

It is made up of specialized cells called odontoblasts. They are located between the dentin and the pulp, remaining in this area throughout the life of the tooth. They participate in the formation of reparative dentin and in the inflammatory processes, immune response and nociception of the tooth.

In this way, it is possible that in some specific situations it can repair itself. But because of this close relationship with the pulp tissue, any condition in its entirety or intense stimulation translates into pain or sensitivity.

As we already mentioned, it is the tissue responsible for the coloration of the teeth.

dental pulp

The dental pulp is the vital tissue of the dental elements. It is located in the innermost area of ​​the pieces, protected by the outermost layers.

It is made up of connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerve endings. For this reason, it is also often referred to as tooth nerve. For pain arises from this area. Its functions include sensory transmission, nourishing the tooth and forming dentin.

The space that the pulp occupies in the tooth is called pulp chamber (in the coronary portion) and dental canals (in the root zone). Nerves and blood vessels enter the tooth through a hole at the end of the root canal. From there they spread throughout the thickness of the pulp to nourish it.

These are the areas that are cleaned and filled during root canal treatments. Practices that, in fact, are used to resolve situations of inflammation or death of the pulp tissue.

dental cement

This is another of the hard tissues of the tooth. It acts as a root cover, protecting the dentin of the root zone.

In addition, it plays a key role in supporting dental elements. Well, it is the one that articulates with the alveolar bone through the periodontal ligament. It is composed of calcified organic tissue.

Differences with the bones

both teeth and bones they are white, strong and contain large calcium deposits. For this reason, many people tend to treat them as if they were the same.

Now that you know what teeth are made of, you can understand that there are several tissues that make up teeth. And that neither is bone.

But in addition, there are other characteristics that differentiate teeth from bone tissue:

  • Composition: Bones are made of collagen, calcium phosphate, and living cells. Also, unlike teeth, they contain bone marrow inside, where blood cells are made.
  • Remodeling: Bones are in a constant remodeling process. The cells inside it remove old tissue and replace it with new bone. This allows to maintain healthy and strong structures. This does not happen with teeth that, once formed, do not undergo major transformations.
  • Healing: In the event of an injury or fracture, the bones are capable of generating a healing process, through a soft callus that later calcifies and can repair the wound. In contrast, loss of minerals from the tooth due to decay or fractures cannot repair itself and will require the attention of a dentist.
Teeth are not bones. In fact, the bone tissue is not part of the dental elements.

The importance of caring for your teeth

Cutting, grinding, tearing and shredding food happens in our mouths almost unconsciously. The pronunciation of words or showing teeth when smiling are also actions that we sometimes do not think about. And even if we don’t keep it in mind, in them the dental pieces intervene.

Knowing what teeth are made of allows you to be more aware and responsible when it comes to caring for your mouth. Well Neglecting dental health can have irreversible consequences. As much as the dentist does an excellent job to restore functions, anatomy and aesthetics, the tissue itself is no longer recovered.

For this reason, it is essential to practice proper oral hygiene. Combining proper brushing with the use of fluoride toothpastes, dental floss and mouthwashes is essential to avoid diseases of the teeth and gums.

Eating a healthy diet rich in calcium, fluoride and vitamins helps keep teeth healthy. Avoiding sugars, ultra-processed foods, carbonated drinks and acidic substances will also protect your teeth.

Not having harmful habits, such as biting your nails, biting objects or using your teeth to cut, prevents injuries to the teeth. In addition, the use of mouth guards during risky sports helps maintain the integrity of the teeth.

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