Enamel – How Teeth Protect Themselves

enamel - how teeth protect themselvesIt’s the second-most resilient substance on earth, next to diamonds, and yet all that is needed to compromise your tooth enamel is neglect. Despite its incredible strength when healthy, tooth enamel is constantly under attack by bacteria and food particles in your mouth. As your teeth’s main line of defense against infection and damage, protecting your tooth enamel is one of the focal points of keeping your smile strong, healthy, and beautiful.

What Is Tooth Enamel?

Although it is the outside layer of a tooth, enamel doesn’t dictate the tooth’s color, since it is semi-translucent. Enamel is, however, the reason why your teeth shine and reflect light the way they do. Enamel is also the barrier between your tooth’s main structure (called dentin) and harmful plaque that could lead to tooth decay. Tooth enamel is made almost entirely of mineral crystals (calcium and phosphate, particularly), and your teeth require a steady supply of these minerals to keep their enamel strong.

Help Your Teeth Protect Themselves

  • The reason why you should brush and floss your teeth at least twice every day is because plaque, which contains harmful oral bacteria, forms on them constantly. If you skip a brushing, the plaque can harden into tartar, and remain there until your next dental cleaning. When possible, brush your teeth after each meal, as well, to further reduce plaque buildup.
  • Since enamel depends on calcium and phosphorus, be sure to include foods rich in these minerals in your diet. Dairy products, including milk, cheese, and sugar-free yogurt, as well as green leafy vegetables and lean meats typically contain healthy amounts.
  • When you brush your teeth, use toothpaste with fluoride in it. The mineral can bond to the weakened outer layers of enamel, boosting its strength in the midst of food and bacterial acid attacks. Also, use mouthwash when you brush and floss to further rinse away harmful substances from hard-to-reach places.