What is Enamel: Know its Composition, Structure, Functions & Protection.

Enamel diagram

Enamel is the hardest, shiny, white and outermost layer of the teeth. It is the strongest and most mineralized substance in the human body, even tougher than bone. This protective coating plays a crucial role in safeguarding the underlying structures of the teeth, namely dentin and pulp.

Composition and Structure :

It is made up of approximately 95% minerals, primarily calcium and phosphorus, that bond together to form hard crystallites. Approximately 1% of enamel is made up of proteins, while water makes up the remaining 4%. It has no blood or nerve supply within it. It consists mainly of Hydroxyapatite [Ca 10(PO 46(OH) 2 ], which is a crystalized form of calcium phosphate. It also contains other minerals like fluoride, carbonate, and magnesium. These minerals give enamel its unique strength and resilience.
The structure is organized into tightly packed rods or prisms (millions in number). These prisms are composed of thousands of hydroxyapatite crystals aligned in a prism-like fashion. This arrangement lends its inherent hardness.

Function :

The primary function of is to protect the teeth from daily wear and tear, such as chewing, biting, and grinding. It acts as a shield, preventing damage to the inner layers of the teeth.

It also provides insulation to the teeth. It helps to insulate the pulp and dentin from thermal changes in the mouth, such as hot and cold food or beverages. This insulation reduces tooth sensitivity and ensures the overall comfort of the individual.

What Are the Signs of Tooth Enamel Loss?

Signs are:

  • Yellowing teeth – When enamel is worn away, the slightly yellow dentin layer underneath can sometimes become more visible.
  • Generally worn down teeth – Erosion can wear down teeth’s biting edges.
  • Increased sensitivity – As the protective enamel wears away, the underlying softer dentin layer can become exposed, causing tooth sensitivity.
Maintenance and Protection:

Although it is incredibly strong, it is not invulnerable. It can be eroded or damaged by various factors, including acidic foods and drinks, poor oral hygiene, teeth grinding, and certain medical conditions.

To maintain healthy enamel, it is essential to adhere to good oral hygiene practices. This includes regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and visiting the dentist for routine check-ups and cleanings.

Avoiding excessive consumption of acidic or sugary foods and drinks can also help protect enamel. Acidic substances erode the enamel over time, while sugars contribute to the development of cavities and tooth decay.

In cases where the enamel has been significantly eroded or damaged, dentists can restore it using various treatments. These may include dental bonding, or in severe cases, a dental crown.

Conclusion :

Enamel is a vital component of healthy teeth. Its strength and protection allow us to enjoy a wide variety of foods and maintain a healthy smile. By taking care of our oral health and adopting good dental habits, we can preserve and protect our enamel for a lifetime.

Also Read : Important tips for maintaining good oral health.
Also Read : What is Tooth Sensitivity? Know its Cause, Sign, Symptoms, Care and Treatment.

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Tobacco, alcohol and areca nut (betel quid) use are among the leading causes of oral cancer. In North America and Europe, human papillomavirus infections are responsible for a growing percentage of oral cancers among young people… ( Read Complete article here)

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