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Dean George is the Marketing Specialist and Content Creator for Dental Insurance
Store and its social media channels. He is a regular contributor to Agent Straight Talk, the
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Let's Get Enamored with Tooth Enamel

Mar 04, 2014

By Dean George

Ever notice how people take for granted many of the gifts we enjoy in life? Intangible things like motor skills, imagination and, uh, what was the third thing? Oh, yeah – memory!

We also take for granted tangible conveniences like electricity, modern medicine and functioning car batteries.  Note to self: check to see if waning car battery needs replaced or if condition of battery terminals is terminal and battery needs to be terminated.

One thing most of us take for granted is tooth enamel.


Now, I know what many of you are thinking. You’d rather spend time scraping your tongue on a rusted cheese grater than reading about tooth enamel.  I briefly had that thought when considering writing about it, but I never know when my wife may need the cheese grater and I’ve checked – writing about tooth enamel is in my job description.

But seriously, if aspirin is considered a miracle drug, tooth enamel deserves equal mention. For instance, did you know that enamel is considered the hardest substance in the human body? Or that it is composed roughly of 96% of calcium phosphate crystals? Or that tooth enamel forms before teeth even erupt in our mouth?

Remember that the next time you consider that whole chicken or egg thingy.

What is Tooth Enamel?  Enamel is the thin exterior covering of the tooth that protects the three other tooth tissues from food, bacteria and environmental factors: the dentin, cementum and dental pulp. Tooth enamel is translucent and helps protect your teeth when chewing, crunching, biting and grinding.

Like peace of mind and other things money can’t buy, tooth enamel is priceless. The big reason is because tooth enamel is almost entirely inorganic, meaning growing more is nearly impossible. When you stand in front of your mirror polishing that enamel twice a day, what you see is basically all you’ll get. Since March Madness begins this month, let me put it in terms hoops fans can understand. Tooth enamel is human biology’s version of “one and done.”

That is why dentists, dental hygienists and certain unnamed bloggers harp, cajole and nag people to brush twice daily, floss regularly and visit their dentist every six months. Enamel is a tooth’s first line of defense, but there are no reinforcements in the wings or hard charging cavalry coming to the rescue of worn out tooth enamel. Once it’s gone, it’s sayonara baby.

What Are The Symptoms of Damaged Enamel? There are 3 primary symptoms when tooth enamel is distressed:

  • Sensitivity As enamel wears away and the “nerve center” of dentin, cementum and dental pulp is exposed, teeth sensitivity may result. That sensitivity may range from slightly tender to OMG! Who put nuclear-tipped porcupine quills in the ice cream!!

True story – I once had a tooth that was so sensitive I could feel vibrations inside my mouth. I also exhibited a Pavlov-like response to high pitched music notes – but rather than salivating, I’d sob. After my dentist corrected the problem, I vowed to never again use a dog whistle on man’s best friend.

  • Color Change As we mentioned in a previous Dental Wire post, while we as Americans are endowed with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of white teeth, the self-evident truth is that we come pre-packaged with inborn tooth colors: from yellow-brownish to greenish-grey. Those colors grow more intense as we age and since enamel is translucent to begin with, it grows thinner over time. If you notice your teeth are yellowing, this may mean the underlying dentin is showing more.

  • Cracks, Chips or Pitting Diet, medications and disease often foster tooth demineralization, but environmental factors may also make tooth enamel more brittle. Conditions like brushing too hard, chewing on hard objects like ice, popcorn kernels and fingernails, and grinding and clenching teeth can all damage tooth enamel. When enamel is damaged it can lead to teeth cracking, chipping or pitting – sometimes called cupping.

Next week we’ll look more closely at specific causes of enamel erosion and how to better protect your teeth to protect them from further damage. Regular dental visits are a major means of protecting your teeth, and a reliable dental insurance or discount dental plan is the best way to ensure access to a dentist whenever needed.  To see what plans are available in your area, click here.

Thanks for reading Agent Straight-Talk, and we invite you to follow us on FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle+, and LinkedIn for more dental derring-do and adventures.

Source: Strobel Dentistry Blog Photo sources: Northway Family Dentistry,

Copyright 2014, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC©

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