Why is enamel the hardest part of the body?
The enamel is the outer visible part of the tooth, covering other inner dental tissues like dentine and pulp. The enamel is composed of minerals, water and organic materials. The enamel has no nerve supply and hence, it is essentially a non-living structure.
The thickness and density of enamel keep varying over the surface of the teeth but it is thickest at the cusps (biting edges of the teeth). The enamel of the primary teeth is more opaque and white in color. Thickness-wise it is half the thickness of the covering of permanent teeth. The enamel reflects the color of the tissue below. The enamel itself is translucent and shiny in appearance. The color of the enamel varies in people from shiny white to dull yellow or may be brownish in another few people. Generally, brownish discoloration is seen in people chewing tobacco or smoking too many cigarettes.
Formation of teeth occurs in the third month of pregnancy. Enamel formation covers the dentine and the pulp inside. The pulp is rich in nerves and blood supply. Once enamel formation is done, mineralization of enamel occurs. We tend to think that a bone is the strongest part of our body but teeth enamel and bone have lots of differences which make enamel the hardest part of human body. Enamel has many more minerals in it than bone. Almost 96% of enamel is pure mineral. The chief mineral that makes up tooth enamel is called crystalline calcium phosphate or hydroxyapatite.
As we all know, not all good things last till the end. If the enamel degenerates due to carries and decay, we have to undergo root canal or tooth extraction. The main function of the enamel is to protect the underlying structures from a bacterial attack. Chewing any kind of food substance is enabled due to the toughness of enamel. It also acts as a barrier for the acids and high sugary foods which cause chemical reaction on the layer of enamel and create dental carries. These foods produce a favorable environment for the bacteria to grow and flourish and lead to the formation of what is called as a dental cavity. There is no pain if the cavity has only affected the enamel, but as soon as the cavity goes deep to the pulp and the dentin part, it causes tremendous pain. It leads to sensitive teeth which will have pain on taking hot or cold foodstuffs. Once the tooth enamel is eroded there is easy access to the organisms to the deeper portions of the tooth. Hence, though enamel is the hardest part of the body it can also undergo degeneration if proper care is not taken whilst brushing teeth. If sugary foods remain in contact with the enamel for long hours, the oral bacterial organisms act upon it and erode the enamel. There is nothing natural or artificial yet available to replace the hardness of the enamel. Thus, it is essential to take care of it.
Summary: Enamel is a very important part of the teeth structure. It should be cleaned while brushing and prevented from any decay by having sweets and sugary foods during meals and not separately.