The strongest and hardest tissue in the human body is tooth enamel. Two percent of enamel is comprised of organic material—protein, lipids and citrate. The other 98 percent consist of water and the minerals calcium hydroxylapatite and calcium fluorapatite (1). Enamel completely envelops other components of the tooth structure, including the dentin, cementum and dental pulp. Enamel protects teeth against the daily wear of biting and chewing. It enables the teeth to withstand hot and cold temperatures, acid and other chemicals which have an erosive effect on teeth. (1, 2, 3).
Tooth enamel ranges in thickness from 2.5 to 3.0 millimeters. It appears white, but actually has a semi-translucent color. The enamel receives it white appearance from the dentin underneath. Coffee, tea, wine, and cigarette smoking discolors are some of the main reasons for discolored tooth enamel (3).
Causes of Tooth Enamel Erosion
Enamel has a high mineral content, which makes it vulnerable to “demineralization” from ingested foods, which contain starch and sugar.
Candy, soft drink, fruit juices, and other sweets leave a large amount of sugar coatings on the oral cavity. Sugar may constitute the single largest contributor to enamel erosion. Bacteria flourish on sugar and generate lactic acid, which eats into the enamel.