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They might not look like it, but your teeth are actually complex little structures. They facilitate biting and chewing, obviously, and also are crucial when we are learning to speak. They are also home to the body’s hardest substance: enamel. What is tooth enamel, and how can you take care of it?

Enamel is the hard outer layer of a tooth that protects the softer inner layers. You might think it is white, but it is actually translucent. Your teeth get their color from dentin, the layer just beneath enamel. However, enamel can still be stained from foods, beverages, and cigarettes. Whitening treatments work to lift these stains. Discoloration in the dentin, as in fluorosis or from certain medications, may not be treatable.

In addition to becoming stained, tooth enamel can wear away over time. This occurs during the natural life of the tooth during chewing and biting activities. It is also the result of erosion from acid. Bacteria that live in plaque that accumulates in the mouth produce acid, and many foods we eat also contain high levels of acid. As enamel wears away, cavities form and the sensitive inner layer of the tooth can become infected. To prevent this, remove plaque by brushing and flossing regularly.

Finally, enamel can chip and crack. This can be the result of a blow to the face, but also happens when teeth are used to open containers or a person grinds his or her teeth. Never open anything with your teeth, and seek treatment for teeth grinding to prevent further damage.

By taking care of enamel through good oral hygiene and safe practices, your teeth can last a lifetime. To learn more about caring for your teeth, please call Simpson Dental Associates in Charleston, WV, today.