Your bones and your teeth share remarkable similarities. Some people even believe the two tissues to be basically the same, with the exception of your teeth being exposed and your bones concealed. While it is true that bone and tooth enamel start with the same calcium-phosphate crystal building material, there are more differences between the two than placement. Dr. Stephen Burds explains.
Bones and Teeth: Strength
The 206 bones in your body can withstand quite a bit of pressure. The average human body weighs between 100 and 200 pounds, and the bones support this weight constantly. The 32 teeth in our mouth can also withstand a lot of pressure. In fact, the only natural substance on earth stronger than your tooth’s enamel is diamond. So how is enamel so much stronger than bone if they are both made from the same ingredients? The secret lies in design. The proteins in enamel mold the mineral crystals differently than in bones; crystal strands in tooth enamel are stronger and longer than bone strands (enamel strands are 100,000 X 50 X 25 nanometers, compared to bone strands at 35 X 25 X 4 nanometers).
Bones and Teeth: Healing
If you fracture or break a bone, the living cells that live within the bone immediately begin repairing the damage. If reset properly, a bone can heal so thoroughly within a few months that an X-ray may not even be able to clearly show the original fracture line. If enamel cracks, however, you must seek professional dental treatment to prevent further damage or risk of infection. Because enamel does not contain living cells, it does not possess the ability to repair itself in the way bone does. If enamel is weakened however, usually through acidic attack, it can restrengthen itself through a process called remineralization, where it utilizes additional calcium and phosphate minerals to fortify itself against tooth infection.
Your tooth enamel is your mouth’s first and foremost defense against bacterial infection and tooth decay. If it becomes compromised, tooth sensitivity may be the most persistent sign that something is wrong. If you have one or more sensitive teeth, or would like to learn more about protecting your teeth and enamel, contact Dr. Burds at Gateway Dental Group at (515) 244-9565 to request a consultation. We welcome patients from River Bend, Kirkwood Glen, East Village, and neighboring communities.