How long does it take for tooth to decompose?

August 18, 2023
min read

Short answer

The decomposition time of a tooth varies depending on several factors, including environmental conditions. However, it generally takes around 10-20 years for a tooth to completely decompose.


The decomposition of a tooth is a complex process that occurs after death. It starts with the breakdown of the enamel, the outer protective layer of the tooth, due to the activity of bacteria and enzymes. As the enamel begins to break down, the underlying dentin and pulp become exposed, leading to further degradation.

Bacteria play a crucial role in the decomposition of a tooth. They colonize the oral cavity and produce acids that attack the tooth structure. These acids dissolve the minerals within the dentin and enamel, causing the tooth to weaken and crumble. Additionally, enzymes released by bacteria break down organic matter within the tooth, contributing to its decay. Over time, the tooth loses its structural integrity, and fragments may detach or disintegrate completely.

Furthermore, external factors such as environmental conditions and oral hygiene practices affect the rate and extent of tooth decomposition. Moisture and warmth accelerate the process, promoting bacterial growth and enzyme activity. On the other hand, dry and cold conditions can slow down decomposition. Similarly, poor oral hygiene, such as infrequent brushing and flossing, can lead to increased bacterial buildup and plaque formation. This, in turn, accelerates the decomposition process, causing teeth to decay more rapidly.

Overall, the decomposition of a tooth involves the breakdown of enamel, the action of bacteria and enzymes, and the influence of external factors. It is a gradual process that results in the disintegration and deterioration of the tooth structure. Understanding these factors can help in identifying the stages of tooth decay and maintaining proper oral hygiene to prevent or delay the decomposition of teeth.

Is it possible to recycle tooth?

Intresting facts

  • Tooth decomposition, also known as dental caries or cavities, is caused by a combination of bacteria in the mouth, sugar intake, and poor oral hygiene.
  • When tooth decomposition occurs, the bacteria in the mouth produce acids that dissolve the hard enamel surface of the tooth, leading to the formation of small holes or cavities.
  • If left untreated, tooth decomposition can progress deeper into the tooth, causing pain, infection, and even tooth loss.
  • Dental plaque, a sticky film that builds up on the teeth, provides a favorable environment for bacteria to thrive and contribute to the decomposition process.
  • Eating a diet high in sugary and acidic foods increases the risk of tooth decomposition, as the bacteria in the mouth feed on sugars and produce more acid, leading to further enamel erosion.

Summary and final thoughts

The decomposition time of a tooth varies depending on various factors such as environmental conditions and whether it is inside or outside the body. Generally, when a tooth is exposed to certain conditions, such as moisture, bacteria, and temperature, it can decompose over a period of several years. In a controlled lab environment, it can take up to 10 years for a tooth to completely decompose. However, in a natural environment or buried underground, the decomposition process can take significantly longer, with estimates ranging from 10 to 100 years or more. It is important to note that these are approximate time frames, as the decomposition rate can be influenced by a range of factors unique to each situation.

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