For the last couple of days my tooth has been aching. I fear that I will have to go to the dentist again. Why me?
My question is, why aren’t my teeth made of solid enamel, rather than having a hollow center filled with dentine and pulp and nerves and whatnot? It certainly would save me unnessary pain and trips to the dentist. Is there a reason why our teeth need to be so sensitive?
A very good question, and I hope someone can provide a more correct and detailed answer to the OP.
I do know that when you get a root canal, and the dentist fills the canal with gutta percha, they almost always have to apply a permanent crown to the tooth. Because the tooth will “dry out”, and become brittle.
I have no idea why this is either, but it implies that for some reason our teeth need the nerve and blood vessels inside them.
Imagine if your fingertips were all keratin or fingernail material. Your “sense” of touch would be extremely impaired.
I can think of lots of evolutionary situations in which having a fine honed “bite sense” about how hard you are biting and the shape of the object you are biting is important. For example real fighting vs play fighting, masticating difficult food, making hide clothing, holding an object in place (stick arrow etc) while you work on it. etc. etc.) Solid enamel teeth would make this level of sensitivity difficult to achieve.
One thing to think about, as I asked my dental assistant about this shortly after she touched my exposed root and acquired all of my attention, is that the tooth needs to be attached to your jaw. If it were all enamel, the connective tissue would have a hard time sticking to it.
How so? If our human ancestors damaged their teeth, there wasn’t much they could do about it except go right on living. It would make more sense to have solid enamel teeth, which wouldn’t cause pain and restrict eating if damaged. I suspect they’d last quite a bit longer too.
Whenever there is damage to a part of your body, it’s a good idea to know about it. If there were no nerves associated with teeth, then when damage was done (fractures, chips, etc.), you wouldn’t know about it, and would therefore not take measures to prevent things from getting worse. If you fracture a tooth and do nothing about, you will eventually lose the entire tooth, and could possibly damage your gums, other teeth, etc., in the process, as well as allow for infection. If the tooth falls out and you don’t know about it, you can very easily get a nasty infection (bite down on something sharp, drive it into the hole where the tooth was, bad things follow).
Note also that animals where teeth are constantly replaced (e.g., sharks) do not have nerves and blood vessels in their teeth, since the teeth are by their nature expendable.
Our ancestors may not have been able to do anything about damage to teeth (or broken legs, skull fractures, or any other bone damage), but knowing about it can still keep things from getting worse.
I have two crowns. Love them. But teeth do not have feel. It is what’s underneath that feels. With that said, my crowns feel more than the other teeth. I chug cold water and guess where I feel it the most?
I would have thought that it would have something to do with the fact that if they were totally enamel, they could become brittle…similar to a Tungsten-Carbide Tip on a saw blade. The little bit of Tunsten on the tip of the blade causes it’s strength to be increased ten-fold, but if the whole blade was made of it, it would be brittle. Just a little thought on the matter!