Many people emphasize the importance of their dental routine, but few non-experts know what enamel is. It turns out understanding enamel is an important part of your health. We're here to cover what exactly enamel is, why it matters, and what you can do to care for yours.
Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications
What Is Tooth Enamel?
Did you know that enamel is the hardest substance produced in your body? This material covers each tooth and provides a tough outer layer. The surface of your teeth is made of enamel, giving them their distinct look.
Enamel owes its incredible hardness to its structure and composition. Research in Nature points out that the mineral hydroxyapatite mostly makes up enamel. Still, it also contains magnesium, sodium, fluoride, and carbonate.
The appearance of your enamel can vary because it is semi-translucent. Everything from a light yellow to a gray-white is normal. While it's a vital part of your dental health, the enamel is only one of a few factors in the color of your teeth.
Why Is Tooth Enamel Important?
Enamel protects the inner, more fragile areas of your teeth, known as dentin and pulp. It is the first and most important line of defense against tooth decay. If your enamel is damaged, you could develop cavities, temperature sensitivity, and even tooth infection.
Tooth decay is one of the most common dental conditions worldwide.
Protecting your enamel should be a priority for your diet and dental routine because your body does not create more to replace it over time.
How Do I Preserve My Tooth Enamel?
Enamel degrades from plaque bacteria, excess sugars, and acids, which can turn into a cavity in your tooth over time. Decay occurs when your enamel is worn down by acidic substances, like drinks or food. Plaque on your teeth also significantly increases cavities by converting sugar into acid.
Saliva is a vital part of your mouth's health. It protects against acids and enzymes and restores trace minerals to weakened teeth. Generally, anything that allows you to produce more saliva will help your teeth. In contrast, anything that slows saliva production will hurt it.
Foods and drinks that fight against decay:
- Fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber
- Sugar-free chewing gum promotes saliva production.
- Black and green tea fight against plaque bacteria
- Dairy products help produce saliva and tend to be high in calcium.
- Any food, drink, or product with fluoride will help strengthen your teeth.
To protect your enamel, don't consume too much of these:
- Sticky candy and sweets
- Soda and other sugary drinks
- Foods that can easily get stuck between your teeth
- Alcoholic drinks can dry out your mouth and are often high in sugar.
If any of your favorite foods or drinks are on the list of things to avoid, remember that most foods are fine in moderation. If you're worried that you overindulge in any of these, try to rinse with water or mouth wash afterward. Diet is a vital part of dental health, but other habits can contribute as well.
More easy tips for caring for your enamel:
- Drink lots of water
- Avoid smoking and tobacco products.
- Skip chewing ice or any overly-hard substance
- Visit your dental professional regularly for oral health care.
- Brush your teeth gently for two minutes twice daily using a soft-bristled toothbrush and floss once daily
Enamel is a unique part of your body, and its care is vital for your health and appearance. Though caring for it can be complicated, simple routines and habits we covered can go a long way to make sure your enamel stays strong.
Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider.