Pop quiz — what is the hardest substance in the human body? If you guessed bones, you’re close but not quite on the mark. It’s actually tooth enamel, which is harder even than steel. This part of your teeth is one of the unsung heroes of biology. Your dentist in Lynnfield is here to talk about this remarkable substance and explain why it is so important to your oral health.
What Exactly Is Tooth Enamel?
Teeth have a few layers. The innermost layer is the pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels. Dentin, a hard, yellowish substance, surrounds the pulp and helps to protect it. Enamel is the outermost layer of your teeth, and it contains a higher concentration of minerals than any other part of the body. It’s what’s primarily responsible for the way your teeth look; it’s usually bluish-white or light yellowish in color, but it’s also semi translucent, which means that in most people, it’s possible to see hints of dentin beneath the enamel.
What Function Does It Serve?
Your enamel is a stalwart soldier in the fight against tooth sensitivity and decay. When it is healthy and strong, it places a protective layer between the ravages of everyday life and the parts of your teeth that connect to your nerves. When it is too thin, things like temperature changes and citrus fruits can cause you a significant amount of discomfort because those things irritate the nerves in the teeth, which in turn send pain signals to your brain.
If enamel suffers enough damage, it can develop holes, and those cavities may even extend into the dentin. When tooth decay becomes severe enough, it can lead to immense pain as well as the need for major dental work, such as root canal therapy or an extraction.
How Can You Protect Your Enamel?
Despite being hard, tooth enamel is brittle, and it is vulnerable to attacks from plaque and acid. That’s why it’s so important to give your enamel a helping hand in its battle against tooth decay. Here are a few things you can do:
- Brush twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Enamel doesn’t regenerate on its own because it doesn’t contain any living cells. However, fluoride is a mineral that can hep to fortify this important layer of your teeth.
- Cut back on sugar and acidic foods. Sugar interacts with the bacteria in your mouth, leading to plaque. Foods and drinks with a high acid content, like soda, can soften your enamel and eventually cause corrosion.
- Visit your dentist regularly. Your dentist can give you personalized tips on how to keep your enamel in good shape.
The outermost layer of your teeth is your first defense against many oral health problems. Do your best to protect it, and your smile will thank you!
About the Dentist
Dr. Rob Schumacher is your experienced, friendly dentist in Lynnfield. If you suspect that your tooth enamel isn’t as strong and healthy as it should be, he would be happy to take a look and help you address the problem. Please contact our office at 781-334-3400.