What is Tooth Enamel? Do I Have Weak Teeth?
By: Dr. Peter, owner and pediatric dentist at VK Pediatric Dentistry in Arlington, VA
Enamel is the hardest surface in the human body and provides your teeth with a protective barrier. Consider it a shield of armor. This is the first and most important line of defense against cavity causing bacteria.
What Does Enamel Do?
Enamel is the outer protective layer of the tooth and is the hardest, most mineralized substance in your body. It covers the outer surface of teeth and is the visible part of the tooth. It's made of mostly minerals (hydroxyapatite mainly). Enamel can be compared to a non-stick coating on a pan. As soon as the outer layer begins to break down, you’ll start seeing other chips, cracks, and crevices. The same is true for teeth. Once the enamel is damaged, often through poor diet or bad hygiene, it will not repair itself unless fixed by a professional (cue, the dentist).
What if I Have Weak Enamel and How Can I Prevent it?
Although rare, there are a few things that cause weak enamel, typically when the teeth are still developing. In general, a mom’s dental habits while pregnant, medications she might be taking, or bad diet habits once a child is born through their adolescence can contribute to weakened enamel. The enamel can appear blotchy, yellowish, or softer than the rest of the teeth. This is something Dr. Peter is screening for at your dental visits.
Sugary foods and acidic beverages are some of the most damaging things to your tooth enamel. When sugar adheres to teeth, bacteria produces lactic acid which sits on the teeth and damages them. Although saliva has many buffering agents that can help repair, the constant bombardment of sugar and acid can lead to cavities. Do your best to protect tooth enamel by maintaining healthy eating habits and good oral hygiene habits.
VK Pediatric Dentistry
5001 Lee Hwy, Arlington, VA 22207