What Is Tooth Enamel?

Have you ever wondered about tooth enamel? What is it? How important is it? How can you protect it? Here are the answers to all of your enamel questions.

The enamel on your teeth is the hardest and most highly mineralized substance in your body. It covers the outer layer of each tooth and it is the most visible part of the tooth. The enamel is made up mostly of minerals, primarily hydroxyapatite. The color can vary from light yellow to a grayish white; since it is semi translucent, it is only partially responsible for the color of your teeth.

Enamel plays a very important role in protecting your teeth from decay, so it is important to do everything that you can to prevent your enamel from eroding. It forms a strong barrier that protects the inner layers of your teeth from the effects of acids and plaque; it also protects the sensitive inner layers of your teeth from foods and beverages that are very hot or very cold.

If your enamel is destroyed, your body does not make more to replace it. Unlike other parts of your body - like your bones, for instance - enamel does not contain any living cells, so it cannot regenerate.

You can protect your enamel by avoiding foods that are known to cause a lot of damage. Sugary foods and acidic fruits and beverages are among the most damaging to your tooth enamel. When those substances stick to your teeth and interact with bacteria in your mouth, lactic acid is produced, which can damage your enamel. Avoid these foods when you can, and if you do consume them, remember to brush thoroughly afterward.

Very hard foods, like hard candy or ice cubes, can also damage your enamel by causing it to crack or chip, so these foods should also be avoided. If you do indulge in hard candy, suck on it but don't bite down on it.

Of course, you can also protect your enamel by practicing good oral hygiene habits, like regular brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing, and visiting your dental professional for regular professional cleanings.

Enamel is an important substance that deserves to be taken care of and protected as part of good oral hygiene. You can learn more about tooth anatomy in the Colgate Oral Care resources.