The tooth enamel is the thin outer layer of the tooth. It is known to be the hardest shell in the human body. It covers the part of the tooth that is visible. The tooth enamel, alongside the dentine, pulp and the cementum are the four tissues that make up the tooth. It is visible as it covers the crown. A large percentage of the enamel consists of minerals, water and organic compounds. In human beings the thickness of the enamel normally varies over the surface of the tooth. Its color varies from grayish white to light yellow. Since the enamel is semi-translucent, it is affected by the color of the dentin and this brings an effect on the appearance of the tooth.
The enamel protects the teeth from daily activities such as chewing, grinding and biting. It is also used to insulate the teeth from potentially high temperatures and chemicals. Despite the fact that the enamel is hard, it sometimes chips and breaks. Everyday use of acidic foods and drinks, particularly sweet foods and those containing starch are a great risk to the enamel. These foods make the enamel demineralized. The sugary foods react with bacteria in the mouth and this is what causes tooth decay. Unlike a broken bone, the enamel cannot be repaired by the body as it does not have any living cells. That is why it is advisable to maintain good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing the teeth at least twice a day and using a mouth rinse.
The enamel might be lost in a number of ways. People might have week tooth enamel in which case proper care of the teeth must be observed. It can also be lost due to sudden tooth erosion. In case someone has an acidic reflux are more likely to suffer from loss of their enamel. Habits such as tooth grinding also promote the wearing out of the tooth enamel.
There are other non bacterial processes that contribute to the wearing away of the tooth enamel. They include abrasion (by foreign objects like tooth brushes), erosion (this involves chemical activities such as action of lemon or soft drinks on the teeth) and abfraction (this are the compressive and tensile forces).
Use of fluoride toothpaste is a good way of strengthening the enamel.