To get an idea of how strong your bones are, consider that the average adult human being weighs between 100 to 200 pounds. Your bones carry that weight every minute of every day as par for the course. Now, consider your teeth. Although paper-thin, the enamel that covers your teeth is much stronger than your bones. In fact, the only substance on earth that is stronger than enamel is diamond. Your Waco dentist Dr. Corbet Locke explains enamel’s superior strength.
Difference in Bone and Teeth Formation
It is not completely irrational for people to believe that teeth and bones are the same. They both begin with the same calcium-phosphate crystal building material. This explains why teeth and bones benefit from the same minerals (especially calcium, phosphate, and vitamin D). The secret, it would seem, lies in the proteins found in tooth enamel. Up until around 1993, researchers were unsure of the purpose of enamel proteins and how they interacted with tooth minerals. They were not sure if they had any function at all. Eventually, a concrete relationship was established between amelogenin (enamel protein) and the formation of enamel’s mineral crystals. These proteins shape the mineral crystals differently, forming strands that are thousands of times longer and stronger than those found in bones.
The Resilience of Bones and Teeth
Other than strength and mineral crystal formation, there is another key difference between teeth and bones. If a bone breaks, its cells immediately begin the task of repairing the damaged tissue. The bone is so efficient at repair that in many cases, the fracture line is hard to discern in X-rays after only a few months. Your enamel, however, contains no living tissue. If you break or chip a tooth, you will have to seek professional dental treatment to repair the damage and prevent the risk of infection. This does not mean that your enamel is defenseless. On the contrary, if bacteria or acid attacks and weakens your enamel, it can strengthen itself through a process called remineralization, where it absorbs additional calcium and phosphate minerals to replace those it has lost.
While your bones support your entire body, your enamel protects it by guarding one of the major entry points for infection and disease: your mouth. Research concerning the oral-systemic connection has shown how tooth decay and gum disease provide a path for bacteria to enter your bloodstream and travel throughout your body. To learn more about how enamel protects your oral and overall health, and how you can protect your enamel, schedule a consultation by calling our Waco dental office at (254) 776-4888. We welcome patients from Waco, Woodway, McGregor, Hewitt, and surrounding communities.