Are Teeth Considered Bones?

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Are teeth considered bones?

Bones and teeth share many commonalities, including their appearance and the fact that they are the two hardest substances in the human body. But despite their similarities, teeth and bones are not the same. Their differences inform how teeth and bones heal, and how they should be cared for.

Why teeth and bones are not the same

Both teeth and bones are made up of much the same material. Both contain calcium phosphate and several other minerals. However, bones are living tissue. They contains a vital component that teeth are lacking – collagen.

Collagen is considered the glue that holds the entire body together. You’ll find collagen in skin, hair, soft tissues and yes, even in the bones and bone marrow. A type of protein, collagen is both flexible and extremely durable. 

Collagen is also the reason why bones possess incredible regenerative powers, just like flesh and other soft tissue. Teeth, on the other hand, can’t heal themselves once broken or damaged. This is why chipped or broken teeth have to be attended to by a dentist.

Key differences between teeth and bones 

We’ve covered the basics of why teeth are not considered bone. But what are the key differences between the two?

Bones are connective tissue

Despite their appearance and hardness, bones are living tissue and qualify as a specialized connective tissue in the body. 

Like the body’s other connective tissues, bones contain cells, fibres and ground substance, but their extracellular components mean the they are considerably more durable.

It is precisely because the bones are more rigid than other connective tissues that they are capable of snapping or breaking.

Bone marrow produces blood cells

Another significant difference between teeth and bones is that bone marrow produces both red and white blood cells. Bones also receive a blood supply from a number of arteries that pass through to the bone marrow.

Teeth are fully reliant on blood vessels 

Teeth, on the other hand, have no marrow and produce no blood cells on their own. They are therefore fully reliant on the blood vessels in their roots for blood supply. 

How to look after your bones vs teeth

Bones may be living cells, but they are much easier to look after than your teeth.

Your bones are (hopefully) all on the inside of your body and are not in direct contact with the external elements that can affect and damage your teeth. Of course, bones break or snap if they are put under extreme pressure or if something heavy falls on them, but for the most part you do not have to worry about them or do much to actively care for them. As long as you consume a healthy and balanced diet, your bone health tends to take care of itself.

Your teeth are much more exposed, as they are in constant use and come into contact with everything you eat or drink. You use your teeth every day to chew, which is why it is so important to maintain good oral hygiene.

The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day, for approximately two minutes each time. You should also floss once a day to remove any food particles and other debris that might have gotten caught between your teeth, or between your teeth and gum line.

Failing to maintain proper oral hygiene can quickly develop into a serious problem, not only for your oral but also your overall health. The first signs of poor oral hygiene are chronic bad breath, swollen gums and gum disease, and soon thereafter tooth decay and tooth loss.

Looking after your teeth also requires a healthy diet, rich in vitamins and minerals. Fortunately, eating a healthy diet supports not only the health of your teeth and gums, but also of your bones and other tissues. In other words, eating healthily is a win win win situation.

How to heal broken bones

The bones remain living tissue throughout our lives, but the vast majority of our bone growth happens in our childhood and teenage years. Bones are able to grow and heal if they have been damaged, but it takes time.

If you ever break a bone in your body, bone cells rush to the site of the injury and immediately begin regeneration. This is why it is so important to have a broken bone set in place as quickly as possible, so that the bone does not heal in the wrong position. 

Healing a broken bone is largely a matter of letting the bone rest as much as possible. This is why, if you have ever had a broken bone and gone to hospital to have it set, your arm, leg or finger will have been put in a cast to keep it immobilised while healing.

Hot to heal tooth decay and broken teeth

While a broken bone will heal on its own given the right condition, a broken tooth never will. Broken teeth stay broken, until a skilled dentist repairs them.

The bones are not living tissue, and cannot generate new cells. This is why teeth are more vulnerable to damage – they simply aren’t able to regenerate.

If you chip, crack or break a tooth, you have no other option but to go the dentist. It is always best to go as soon as possible, as a broken tooth can only get worse, not better, by being left alone.

Frequently asked questions

Why are teeth not considered as bones?

There are several key reasons why teeth and bones are not classified as the same thing. Although the two substances can look very similar and both are the hardest substances in the human body, their differences inform how they grow, how they heal, and how they should be looked after.

Bones are living tissue, whereas teeth are not. This is due to the facts that bone tissue contains collagen and produces blood cells. These details enable bones to grow and to heal in a way that teeth simply aren’t able to.

Once you have chipped or broken a tooth, it will never regrow on its own. A broken bone, on the other hand, will heal back up over time, presuming it has been set back in place with nothing to impede the healing process.

Are teeth bone or organ?

Although they look more like bones, teeth are actually considered organs. Teeth are an ectodermal organ, to be exact. Ectodermal means that the teeth are on the outside of the body, rather than on the inside where they cannot be seen.

Most of the body’s organs, such as the heart and liver, are inside of the body. They are made of soft tissue and need to be protected inside of the body. The teeth, on the other hand, are made of hard minerals including calcium phosphate. They are built for their function, which is to chew and pulverise foods to make them easier to ingest.

What are teeth classified?

Teeth are classified as ectodermal organs, meaning they are organs that sit on the outside of the body, rather than inside. The teeth poke up through the gum line, with their roots firmly embedded in the gums themselves. It is through blood vessels in their roots that teeth receive their blood supply, as they do not produce their own blood sells. 

Dr Febin Mary George - Editor

With more than 10 years as a dental surgeon, Dr Febin Mary George is passionate about educating consumers around the world to help look after their teeth.

She completed her Bachelor of Surgery at the Century Institute of Dental Science and Research Centre in 2010.

Alongside editing the International Journal of Dental Clinics she has also written for major publications including Thrive Global.