When you look at your smile in the mirror, chances are you just see your teeth. Like other systems in your body though, your teeth are complex and made of different elements including tooth enamel. You might wonder what is tooth enamel and how is it important to healthy teeth. Read our guide below to understand why your tooth enamel is key to your oral health.
What is Tooth Enamel?
Tooth enamel is a thin and translucent covering that spans the outer surfaces of your teeth. It is the hardest mineral substance in the human body and is even stronger than bone. Tooth enamel covers the crown, the part of your teeth that you can see outside your gums.
Because of its translucency, light can be seen through tooth enamel. The tooth’s primary element, its dentin, is responsible for its color whether that is white, yellowish, gray or off-white.
What Is Tooth Enamel’s Function?
In addition to understanding what is tooth enamel, it’s important to realize the vital function this element performs for the health of your teeth. Tooth enamel helps protect the teeth from what they go through on a daily basis: chewing, grinding, biting and crunching, for example.
Tooth enamel also has insulating properties. This means that it can help protect your teeth from things such as chemicals or temperature changes that could potentially be painful.
In spite of the fact that tooth enamel is the hardest mineral element in your body, it can still break, chip and crack. While the body can repair broken bones, it cannot do so if a tooth is broken or chipped. Tooth enamel does not contain any living cells so your body cannot repair it if it is cracked or chipped.
Other Tooth Enamel Concerns
Broken, chipped or cracked tooth enamel is just one type of issue that can befall tooth enamel. Erosion of the enamel is also a concern. There are several circumstances that can lead to tooth enamel erosion.
Foods and Beverages
The foods you eat and the beverages you consume can have a direct effect on the health of your teeth including the enamel. Acidic foods and beverages, in particular, can lead to the erosion of enamel.
Fruit drinks, soft drinks and foods like tomatoes and oranges all contain high amounts of acids. A diet that is elevated in starches and sugar can also lead to enamel erosion.
Your genetics can make tooth enamel more prone to erosion while some health conditions can damage it. Gastrointestinal issues, dry mouth, acid reflux and low salivary flow are all health conditions that can lead to tooth enamel erosion.
There are some medications that can lead to the erosion of your tooth enamel. These include antihistamines, vitamin C tablets and aspirin.
Over the course of your lifetime, your tooth enamel is exposed to countless environmental factors that can cause it to erode. Daily wear and tear from chewing and eating, friction from clenching or grinding your teeth and stress from the tooth bending or flexing are some examples of environmental causes.
What Is Tooth Enamel Erosion?
Sometimes signs of tooth enamel erosion can be so subtle that it’s easy to dismiss them. Slight twinges of pain while eating sweet foods or foods of different temperatures can be an early sign of erosion. Chips, cracks and yellowing of your teeth can also indicate that your tooth enamel is eroding.
In addition, to answer the question: what is tooth enamel more fully, Greenwood Dental can also access the health of your teeth, including the enamel. Learn more about how we can help keep your teeth healthy and give you many reasons to smile by contacting us at 855.528.3961 today.