What Is Tooth Enamel?
Tooth enamel is the hard, outer surface layer of your teeth that serves to protect against tooth decay. In fact, tooth enamel is considered the hardest mineral substance in your body, even stronger than bone. In spite of its strength, everyday acids that develop from certain foods and drinks, particularly those that are sweet or contain starch, can put your enamel at risk. Plaque bacteria produce acids that can weaken and destroy tooth enamel. Acids can attack and soften the tooth surface. And once your enamel is gone, it can be gone for good.
Types of Enamel Damage
Two types of tooth damage—abrasion and erosion—can affect the tooth enamel. Abrasion is caused by something rubbing against the teeth. Brushing your teeth with a hard-bristled toothbrush, poking your teeth with toothpicks, or scraping your teeth when removing retainers or partial dentures are possible causes of tooth enamel abrasion. By contrast, erosion occurs when the tooth enamel is overexposed to dietary acids from certain foods and drinks, or acids in the stomach that are regurgitated. It also can be eroded due to the toxins that are released by the plaque bacteria that are around your gum line.