Tooth Enamel — What Is It? Your Dentist in Ephrata Explains

woman's smile“I escaped by the skin of my teeth!” Have you ever wondered exactly what the ‘skin of your teeth’ is? The expression originally came from the King James translation of the Bible, but it is still in use today. It seems reasonable to assume that the phrase is referring to tooth enamel. Your dentist in Ephrata is here to give you the nitty gritty details on this outermost layer of your teeth.

The Hardest Substance in Your Body

You might have thought that your bones or your fingernails are the hardest part of the human body, but it’s actually tooth enamel. This extremely thin layer of minerals that covers teeth is harder than steel; it scores a five on the Mohs scale, which means it is difficult to scratch. There is one type of snail whose teeth are even harder than diamonds!

Unfortunately, human tooth enamel, while it is very strong, is also brittle. That means it can easily chip if you bite down too hard on something. It’s also vulnerable to acids, which is why your dentist is always telling you to cut back on soda, citrus fruits, and your favorite candies.

The main mineral in enamel is hydroxyapatite, which is semi-translucent. However, it can have a colored tint to it. The enamel could be any color from grayish-white to light yellow. If the enamel on your teeth becomes too thin, you might be able to see through it to the next layer, dentin, which is yellowish in color.

Why It Is So Important

Your tooth enamel is extremely important because it, along with your saliva, serves as the first line of defense for your pearly whites. If the enamel becomes too thin or damaged, your teeth could develop a sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages. Tooth decay may even occur, leading to the need for fillings, a root canal, or even a tooth extraction.

Caring for your enamel is key to protecting your oral health. Be sure to use a fluoride toothpaste; the fluoride will help with remineralization, which means that it will help to replace the tiny bits of enamel that wear away throughout each day. You might also use a fluoride-containing rinse.

If your enamel does wear away and you end up with decay, there’s no reason to despair. Your dentist may place a crown on your tooth to protect it against further damage. Porcelain crowns, which are the same color as natural teeth, can make sure onlookers don’t know that you had some dental work done.

Your enamel is amazing! Take care of it so the skin of your teeth stays in great shape throughout your lifetime.

About Ephrata Family Dentistry

Drs. Sean Moriarty and Suzanne Ahnquist are passionate about providing top-notch dental care to their patients. They are glad to offer cleanings, checkups, and other preventive services to help make sure that your enamel stays strong and beautiful. If you have questions about how to care for your pearly whites, contact our office at 717-733-1088.


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