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What is Tooth Enamel and Why Do We Have It?



What is Enamel?

Tooth enamel is a hard, shiny, white layer that acts to cover a tooth and its underlying tissues. This outermost white shell is a thin yet, toughest tissue in the human body. Enamel is so strong as it is made up entirely of minerals, enabling it its strength and the capability to protect your teeth from damage. The strong shell is also responsible for giving your teeth a shiny, white and bright smile. Despite its strong nature, it is still very important to maintain proper brushing and flossing habits to take care of your enamel.


Why is Enamel important?

Enamel plays a critical role in daily use such as chewing, biting, or cruching. Even though it is very strong in nature, it can still be susceptible to chips and cracks. This shield that helps to protect your teeth also functions to insulate the teeth from various temperatures or chemicals. When one experiences enamel erosion, they may experience sensitivity or pain to foods or drinks of different temperatures, as the protective barrier has worn off.


Can Enamel grow back?

Unlike a broken bone in the body that can berepaired, enamel does not have living cells. Hence, once a tooth chips, breaks, or has undergone enamel erosion, the damage is permanent.


What can damage your Tooth Enamel?

Enamel erosion can be caused by eating various foods, particularly:

  • Acidic foods such as sour candies, tomatoes, or citrus fruits

  • Sodas and sports drinks that contain various acids that can be damaging to the enamel

Consuption of coffee, tea, fruit juices, red wine, or smoking can sometimes stain the enamel surface. Routine visits to the dentist including cleanings and polishing can help remove most surface stains and help maintain healthy enamel.


What are some signs of Tooth Enamel loss?

  • Yellowing Teeth - As enamel wears away, the dentin layer underneath, which is slightly yellow, will become exposed, causing the teeth to appear more yellow.

  • Increased Sensitivity - As the protective shield wears away, the underlying dentin layer can become exposed, resulting in sensitivity.


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