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What is Tooth Enamel?

by Williams, Daily & Frazier on Dec 6, 2021 5:15:00 AM

Dentists love to talk about plaque, tooth decay, cavities, and other threats to the health of your tooth enamel. But what is tooth enamel? You might have a basic idea. You probably know it is the protective covering of your teeth and the visible outer shell with a natural white appearance. But your tooth enamel is much more than just the exterior of your teeth.

What is Tooth Enamel?

Your tooth enamel is a protective layer that covers each and every tooth you have. It is very hard and very smooth. Its hardness helps it resist the ravages of bacteria and the damage that hard food can do to teeth. Its smoothness helps prevent bacteria from clinging on. Tooth enamel is also the hardest substance found in the human body, which tells you something about how important nature considers your teeth to be.

What Does Enamel Do?

Your tooth enamel isn't just there to look bright, white, and shiny. It protects your teeth from decay and damage. It provides a protective barrier against bacteria and the destructive acid it produces. Your tooth enamel also shields your teeth from hot and cold food, as well as the abrasion many foods can inflict on your teeth. While your tooth enamel is terribly hard and extremely strong, it has to last a lifetime guarding against acid, bacteria, and other damage eating hard, acidic foods can cause. That's a tough job – even for a material that is considered to be harder than tool-grade steel!

What Damages Tooth Enamel?

The primary threats to your precious tooth enamel are sweet treats. This is because they contain the bacteria’s favorite food, which produces the acid which can rapidly erode tooth enamel. Sugary foods and foods with a high citric acid content are the worst offenders. Drinks that are high in sugar, such as soda, are the number one culprit. Soda is both high in sugar and very acidic, a combination that wears away enamel. Once your tooth enamel is damaged, it cannot repair itself naturally.

How to Know if Your Enamel is Damaged?

The changes are very subtle at first. First, you will feel pain or sensitivity when eating certain foods. As the damage progresses, you will begin to notice a yellow discoloration on your teeth. This yellow color signals the exposure of the dentin layer beneath your enamel. This can be so hard to spot because most people consider the yellowing of their teeth to simply be a stain from coffee or other food. But it is also an early sign of thinning enamel. Once the enamel has thinned, cavities form much more easily, and the damage to your teeth will accelerate from that point.

What's The Best Enamel Protection?

Your best bet against enamel damage is seeing your dentist and receiving professional cleanings at least twice a year. In addition to this, you should brush your teeth twice to three times a day, floss once a day, and use a dentist-recommended mouthwash. Avoid sugary foods and beverages as much as you can, and consider rinsing your mouth with water after eating acidic citrus fruit.

Enamel Help in North Raleigh

To learn more about the threats to your enamel, get in touch with Williams, Daily, and Frazier today. New patients are always welcome. Our caring staff is standing by, ready to take your call.

Williams, Daily & Frazier Dental is a family and cosmetic dentist located in North Raleigh, NC with a team of dedicated dentists enthusiastic in their commitment to their patients. We offer dental implants, Invisalign teeth straightening, in-office and home teeth whitening options, and Oral-B electric toothbrushes.
Contact Williams, Daily & Frazier at (919) 846-9070 for more information and to schedule an appointment today.

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