Tooth enamel protects your teeth and plays a vital role in your overall dental health. Find out how much you know about your pearly white's first line of defense by taking this quiz.
Tooth enamel is the strongest material in the human body, but it's not impenetrable. It can be worn away over time by food, drink and a variety of environmental and hygienic factors.
Enamel forms on your teeth while you're still a babe in the womb, typically during the third or fourth month of pregnancy.
Enamel is a tooth's outermost covering and is thin but extremely strong. It acts as a protective shell and covers the visible portion of your teeth.
Enamel is a very thin translucent layer that covers your teeth. Teeth get their pearly white color from the dentin crown, which is underneath the enamel.
Deteriorated enamel exposes the dentin, which is loaded with tiny nerve endings. Food or drinks that are hot or cold that touch the exposed dentin can cause discomfort that ranges from a minor annoyance to a shocking, sudden jolt of intense pain.
Chewing gum increases saliva production, and the minerals in saliva strengthen enamel. Look for sugar-free gum with xylitol in it, an ingredient that diminishes acids in food and drinks.
Weak enamel can be an inherited trait, but it's not always to blame. Thankfully, even if you're born with weak enamel, there are steps you can take to prevent the deterioration of your teeth's precious protective covering.
Tooth sensitivity, discoloration and changed appearance all can indicate enamel loss. Sometimes miniscule divots appear on the face of a tooth. This is because there is no enamel shell to protect the tooth from plaque, which eats away at the dentin crown, creating the divots.
Saliva contains minerals that strengthen enamel. When your mouth has low levels of saliva, your enamel is weaker and easily worn or damaged because it lacks these minerals to strengthen it.
Dental bonding is one treatment for minor enamel loss. A dentist applies a resin that matches the color of your tooth then hardens it with a laser or ultraviolet light. Besides improving their appearance, this process protects teeth with worn enamel.
Brush and floss your teeth daily. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride because the ingredient strengthens teeth. When you drink sugary or acidic beverages like soda, use a straw to push the liquid to the back of your throat, where less of it will come into contact with your teeth.
Enamel contains no living cells, so it can’t repair itself. Once it's gone, the damage is permanent.
When enamel is worn down, the main body of the tooth -- the dentin -- is left exposed and unprotected. Food or beverages that are hot or cold can cause minor to extreme pain, depending on the severity the enamel's erosion.
Chemicals in food or drinks, including acids, can wear down your enamel and cause serious harm to the underlying teeth. When you consume something acidic, rinse out your mouth with water or brush your teeth to get rid of the acidic residue left in your mouth.
Using a sugar-free substitute decreases the quantity of enamel-damaging sugar in margaritas. Unfortunately, these popular drinks are made with limes, a highly acidic fruit, so your enamel's in trouble regardless if you go sugar-free or not.
Toothbrushes with hard bristles can be too abrasive and scrape off enamel instead of simply cleaning it. Brush frequently with a soft toothbrush, or buy an electric toothbrush, which will control the pressure and power of your brush strokes.
It's important to visit the dentist for an annual or biannual teeth cleaning. These professionals have special tools and techniques that allow them get rid of more plaque buildup than you can through regular brushing.
Unprotected teeth change in appearance and can look bulbous or rounded, noticeably shinier and smooth or ragged with sharp edges. They can even develop little divots where harmful substances like acids have begun to eat away at the tooth itself.
Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing regularly is the key to healthy teeth and preventing problems with your enamel.
Enamel thickness varies across the face of the tooth. Some teeth have peaks or sharp points called cusps that do a lot of the tooth's work, absorbing significant wear and tear. This special protective shell tends to be thicker here than the borders or outside edges of the tooth.