Our clever little teeth are not just pre-programmed to come and go when we need them to, to build themselves up and continue to do so even after injury, they are also able to ‘heal’ from injury and infection long after they are fully grown.
The Miracle Of Healing
Every day, many times per day, enamel on our teeth is being dissolved by food acid or bacterial acids. This happens after every meal, after every drink. However, this process is a cycle- the material that comes off the enamel of our teeth is then built back up onto the teeth as soon as the conditions are right (a relatively neutral, non-acidic environment is achieved in the mouth). Provided we don’t ‘attack’ the enamel with more food or drink soon after, our enamel will remineralise and there will be no nett loss of mineral, so the tooth won’t wear down or decay. Usually, it is calcium from our enamel and from foods which is responsible for this phenomenon of remineralisation, however, fluoride from water or supplements aids this process by making the enamel stronger and more difficult to dissolve and de-mineralise.
The complex of nerve endings and blood vessels which supplies each tooth is called the pulp. The pulp is located in the ‘hollow’ pulp chamber or ‘root canal’ of each tooth. The pulp supplies sensation to the tooth and also feeds the cells (odontoblasts) living on the outer edge of this complex. These cells are responsible for producing dentine, the soft part of the tooth immediately below the pearl-like shell of hard enamel. When the pulp complex senses a minor injury or incoming bacteria, it encourages the odontoblasts to increase their production of dentine. This way, the pulp essentially ‘shrinks away from danger’ and the nerve and blood vessels can then remain unaffected by the incoming danger!
And if that’s STILL not cool enough:
Teeth also make ‘interesting’ Valentine’s gift ideas…