The Tooth about Enamel
Here’s a riddle for you…what is translucent, thin, and is the hardest tissue in the human body but has no living cells? Give up?
Tooth enamel. Fascinating, right??
I doubt you go about your day contemplating the importance of tooth enamel. I mean, come on, who does that? Other than a dentist…or someone who really likes teeth…
But your knowledge of how tooth enamel works could greatly affect your life! Here’s why those 4 little riddle facts are important to know:
Tooth enamel is translucent. You can actually see light through it. It’s the main part of your tooth that’s just beneath the enamel (the dentin) that is responsible for the color of your teeth. However, coffee, tea, cola, red wine, fruit juices, and cigarettes can stain the enamel (source). Visiting your dentist regularly for polishing and cleaning can keep your enamel stain-free. Ask your dentist about teeth whitening procedures that are right for you.
Tooth enamel is thin. While enamel is a tough little bugger, there’s not much of it to go around.. It protects your teeth, so protect it! Enamel erosion is caed by acids that wear it away over time. Things that erode your enamel:
- Acidic foods (yes, that means lemons)
- Soft drinks
- Fruit drinks
- Low amounts of saliva/dry mouth
- High consumption of sugar and starches
- Acid Reflux Disease
- Aspirin, antihistamines, and other medications
- Genetics (darn you, Grandma!)
Tooth enamel is the hardest tissue in your body. This is because it has the highest mineral content. Whoa, impressive…I guess? It’s important to know because while the high mineral content makes it hard as nails (literally), it also makes it very susceptible to cavities. This makes avoiding the list above all the more important.
Tooth enamel has no living cells. Our body has an incredible ability to heal itself. You break a bone? It repairs itself over time. Unfortunately for enamel, there are no cells to repair it. If damage is done, it’s permanent. Lucky for you, your dentist can help you with tooth bonding or crowns.
A few tips for protecting this oh-so-important enamel:
- Drink from a straw when drinking sodas or acidic drinks.
- Chew sugar-free gum between meals to keep your saliva production up.
- Drink more water.
- Use fluoride toothpaste.
And, as you probably assumed…
Don’t. Eat. Lemons.