The Importance of Tooth Enamel

Enamel, the first layer of the tooth that is visible in the mouth, is a porous, calcified substance made from crystalline calcium phosphate. Enamel appears to be a soft beige to white color, yet it is semitranslucent allowing the color of the dentin layer to penetrate through. Enamel is also the hardest substance in the body.

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Enamel is prone to demineralization, or the loss of structure. Common causes of enamel demineralization are erosion and abrasion.


Enamel erosion is the wearing out of and eventual loss of enamel. Enamel erosion is typically caused by acid found in food and beverages.


Enamel abrasion is the wearing out or loss of enamel from a mechanical source, such as a toothbrush or excessive use of abrasive tooth whitening paste.

There are three main forms of common enamel abrasion that you should look out for.

  • Mild Abrasion: Mild abrasion is just as it sounds; mild. At this stage, you might not even be able to notice that the enamel layer is thinning. Your dentist would be able to tell in a regular checkup.
  • Moderate Abrasion: Mild abrasion morphs into moderate abrasion if it is left untreated. The abrasion becomes more visible at this stage.
  • Severe Abrasion: In severe abrasion, the abrasion could potentially end up as deep grooves actually on the teeth. These grooves can go into the next level of dentin. This leaves the teeth much weaker. Once this layer of dentin is compromised, it becomes much easier for bacteria to get into the tooth. This could potentially lead to decay or infection.

Enamel abrasion can affect the mouth in a number of ways. Some of the ways it can affect the mouth include:

  • Tooth Sensitivity to hot or cold beverages: The teeth become especially sensitive to the touch to temperature. Consuming drinks that are extremely hot, or extremely cold can cause a very strange, and sometimes painful sensation.
  • Chronic tooth sensitivity: The teeth may become consistently sensitive. There may not be necessarily any rhyme or reason to the sensitivity on a certain day, rather it just becomes a commonly occurring bother.
  • Tooth fracture: Individuals with enamel abrasion are more likely to suffer a fracture of the tooth.
  • Tooth loss: Similarly, Individuals with enamel abrasion are more likely to lose a tooth due to the issue.

Both factors may result in tooth decay and tooth sensitivity. Thus, it is important to take care of any potential regarding tooth enamel as soon as they are noticed.

Fluoride’s Effect on Enamel

Fluoride has been proven to remineralize and strengthen the enamel, along with the use of the proper brushing and flossing techniques.

By Shawn Watson
Shawn Watson is an orthodontic dental assistant and writer with over 10 years of experience working in the field of dentistry.