Calcium in Human Health

Part of the series Nutrition and Health pp 319-325

Calcium and Oral Health

  • Elizabeth A. KrallAffiliated withHealth Policy & Health Services Research, Boston University, Goldman School of Dental Medicine

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Calcium is vital for the proper development and maintenance of calcified oral tissues. These include tissues incorporated into the structure of the teeth themselves and the bone in which they are embedded. The mineralized tissues of the tooth, enamel, cementum and dentin, have characteristics that are distinct from bone. The enamel covering of the coronal portion of the tooth is composed of large, densely packed hydroxyapatite crystals (Fig. 1). Compared with bone, enamel has a higher ratio of mineral to water and organic material (96% mineral, 3% water, and <1% collagen). Enamel has no vascular or nerve supply after the tooth has been formed, and does not undergo remodeling. Demineralization and remineralization occur only in localized areas on the tooth surface.