How hard is tooth enamel compared to other materials?

Tooth enamel is harder than steel, but breaks much easier.

27th April 2016
How hard is tooth enamel compared to other materials? (iStock)

Asked by: Ron Pirani, Massachusetts, US

Tooth enamel is mostly hydroxyapatite, which is a mineral form of calcium phosphate. The apatite group of minerals scores a five on the Mohs hardness scale; which makes enamel the hardest biological material. Tooth enamel is harder than steel, but a lot more brittle. So you can’t scratch your enamel on metal cutlery but you can chip it by trying to open a beer bottle with your teeth.

 


Follow Science Focus on Twitter, Facebook and Google+