What is tooth enamel and why is it so important?
It is the hardest tissue in the body, but also must be careful because it does not regenerate.
Despite the common belief, the teeth are not formed by bone. That is, the teeth are not bones but are composed of different mineralized tissues, and one of them is the tooth enamel.
Specifically, it is a tissue composed of hydroxyapatite and proteins (very low rate). The most curious, and perhaps what has made many people believe that it is actually a bone, it is that the enamel is the hardest tissue in the human body. This hardness is so astonishing is provided hydroxyapatite, which is the hardest mineral in the human body (it is more mineralized bones).
The tooth is made up of 3 main layers: the outer layer called enamel, dentin called the intermediate layer and the inner, called pulp.
The tooth enamel is a layer of 2 to 3 millimeters thick that covers all teeth, but only in the visible portion. The enamel is translucent and insensitive to pain, because it lacks nerve endings.
Dentin is the layer below the enamel and is responsible for tooth color. Its properties are color-radiopacity-translucency hardness-elasticity-permeability.
Beneath the dentin, is the pulp. Formed by a soft tissue containing the nerve-tooth renovascular package consists of nerves, a vein and an artery. Its activities are inducing nutrient-sensitive-defensive-healing-temperature-training.
Tooth enamel seems to have a curious origin. A team of Swedish scientists from Uppsala University and the Institute of Paleontology and Paleoanthropology Vertebrate of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has combined genetic and fossil data in order to demonstrate that our enamel could have originated flake fish extinct.
As explained in research published in the journal Nature, the ganona, a tissue present in extinct or primitive fish like spotted gar is very similar to our dental enamel. In addition, the researchers were able to confirm that our enamel proteins, such as ameloblastin or amelogenin, were also present in primitive fish as the West Indian Ocean Coelacanth.
We must take care because it does not regenerate
As tooth enamel is translucent (almost transparent, with some shades of blue – gray), the color we see in our teeth is actually a reflection of the dentin, another mineralized tissues of the tooth that is internal.
Although we have said that the enamel is the hardest tissue in the human body, it is actually very fragile. Something like what happens with a porcelain dish, for example, which is hard and brittle at the same time? That is, to support the use over time, but cannot be used incorrectly, for example giving a sharp blow.
And precisely because of its chemical composition, tooth enamel is very sensitive to bacteria. Bacteria colonizing the surface of teeth flour feed (carbohydrates) we eat and produce acidic substances as waste.
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These acidic substances are particularly harmful to the enamel, because his fault minerals are lost and the tooth deteriorates. Caries in fact is a disease characterized precisely by the destruction of tissues due to tooth demineralization by acids caused generated plaque.
For that reason, to care for and maintain the hard tissue of our body, we have to be careful with their hygiene, it is the best way to prevent waste acid bacteria occur.
In addition, the big problem is that tooth enamel is not able to regenerate. Therefore, we face permanent damage when tooth enamel suffer some deterioration. For example: when it is removed by tooth decay, when it breaks for some blow to our teeth, when worn by teeth grinding, etc. And when worn, it is already only able to restore assisted by dental techniques, such as reconstruction, veneers or crowns total coating.
For that reason, to care for our dental enamel is convenient comply with the following recommendations:
- Maintain a balanced diet: Limit snacks between meals. If not stop eating sweet foods, is best done when the mouth has a greater amount of protective saliva, i.e. between meals. A healthy diet always helps to have healthy teeth.
- Chewing sugarless gum: The combination of saliva with sugarless chewing gum stimulates saliva flow, further neutralizing acids.
- Quitting smoking.
- If the dentist deems appropriate, the topical application of fluoride to prevent dental caries and re-mineralize enamel.
- Brushing teeth twice a day with a soft bristle brush. Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner. Frequently visit the dentist for professional cleanings and oral examinations.