In this study photomechanical experiments were carried out to examine the relationship between macroscopic mechanical stress and strain gradients within the root dentine structure. Three-dimensional digital photoelasticity was used to study the stress distribution patterns in tooth models, while digital moiré interferometry was used to study the strain gradients within the natural teeth. The stress analysis showed a distinct bending stress distribution, along faciolingual plane in the coronal and cervical regions of the tooth. There was a reduction in bending towards the apical third of the tooth model. The strain analysis displayed strain gradients in the axial (along the long axis of the tooth) and lateral (perpendicular to the long axis of the tooth) directions in dentine. There was a conspicuous reduction in strains from the cervical to the apical third of the root dentine. The root dentine displayed uniform distribution of normal strains. Although there was a steep increase in stresses from the inner core region to the outer surface of an isotropic tooth model, there were more uniform strain gradients in the natural dentine structure. It is apparent from these observations that complex organization of material properties facilitated distinct strain gradients in dentine structure during mechanical functions.