What Are Our Teeth Made Of?

Most people know the basics of dental care, but how many of us really know the anatomy of our teeth? Here’s a short overview of what our teeth are made of.


Quite simply, the crown is the part of the tooth that you can see.


The hardest tissue in your whole body is the enamel of your teeth, which forms the outermost layer of the crown. This substance is why your teeth can withstand the pressure from chewing hard foods. It also protects your teeth from harmful bacteria and acids, as well as hot and cold foods. Enamel mostly consists of calcium phosphate, a rock-hard mineral.


Right below the enamel is a yellowish material called dentin. It is a hard tissue made of microscopic tubes. When the enamel is damaged or worn away, heat or cold can enter the tooth through these tubes and cause pain. Every tooth is mostly dentin, which is why teeth have a slight yellowish tint. Like enamel, dentin mostly consists of apatite crystals of calcium and phosphate. This makes it hard as bone, but it’s not quite as hard as enamel.


Below dentin is pulp, the softest, most alive and innermost portion of the tooth. Pulp consists of connective tissue , nerves, and blood vessels, which nourish your teeth. Pulp has two parts — the pulp chamber, which is in the crown, and the root canal, which lies in the root of the tooth. Nerves and blood vessels enter the root through a small hole in its tip and extend through the root canal into the pulp chamber.


Cementum is a layer of connective tissue that secures the roots of your teeth firmly to your gums and jawbone.

A layer of cementum coats the exterior of the root, under the gum line, and binds the tooth into place within the jawbone. Cementum is as hard as bone, but it’s slightly softer than dentin. It consists of about 45–50% inorganic minerals and 50–55% organic matter (mostly collagen and glycoproteins) plus water.

Periodontal Ligament

The periodontal ligament, also called the desmodontium, is a fibrous joint that holds the root of each tooth in its bone socket. The periodontal ligament fibers are anchored in the cementum layer of the tooth and in the alveolar jaw bone. They hold the teeth in a state of sprung suspension, which means that each tooth can move slightly within its alveolar bone socket.

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