What is tooth enamel made of

Tooth enamel degradation: causes & measures to prevent

What is tooth enamel?

Tooth enamel is the outer layer of our natural tooth crown. Its development is already completed before the teeth erupt in the mouth. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, as it has to withstand the great pressure involved in crushing food. It wraps around the tooth like a shell and protects it from damage, wear and tear and bacteria. Because of this hardness, the tooth enamel can only be worked on at the dentist's with rotating instruments equipped with diamond grains.

Tooth enamel: anatomy and structure

The enamel forms the top layer of the tooth. It reaches a thickness of up to 2.5 millimeters and covers the dentin over the entire surface of the tooth crown. However, it does not cover the root under the gums.

Tooth enamel consists of invisible crystallines or prisms that run perpendicular to the dentin. The prisms are grouped into bundles in the form of a ribbon and have inter-prismatic enamel, which stabilizes the tissue. The crystalline structure makes the enamel shine slightly.

The predominantly inorganic tooth enamel consists of several mineral substances. These include Calcium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus as well as proteins and fats. Other components of tooth enamel are keratin-like constituents, which, in combination with a Mohs hardness of 5, represent the hardest tissue in the human body.

The tooth enamel is neither pervaded by nerves nor supplied with blood. Accordingly, it is insensitive to pain. Only when it has been broken down by wear and tear or caries can pain be felt through the dentin beneath it. The enamel itself is considered dead tissue. I. E. it can neither be regenerated nor reproduced by the body. Regular visits to the dentist and the use of special toothpaste can benefit the natural preservation of the enamel.

What functions and tasks does tooth enamel have?

The resilient enamel protects the tooth from wear and tear as well as decalcification by acids that are contained in food and beverages. It also compensates for temperature fluctuations and prevents bacterial contamination of the tooth.

The upper skin of the tooth enamel lies on top of the enamel as an invisible coating. It arises from components of saliva and is brushed away when you brush your teeth in order to then form again. It has a protective and repair function.

What is tooth enamel degradation?

Tooth enamel degradation (also tooth erosion or dental erosion) refers to the acid-induced degradation of tooth substance (tooth enamel and dentin). If acids (e.g. in fruit, drinks) act regularly on tooth enamel, this leads to its softening and ultimately to degradation. As a result, the enamel becomes thinner, porous and loses its resistance. This gives bacteria an ideal hiding place. Their metabolic products further hollow out the tooth and tooth decay develops.

Where the enamel is degraded, the tooth appears more matt or transparent until the yellowish dentin shimmers through. If the dentin is exposed, the teeth are usually more sensitive to pain.

Tooth enamel breakdown: causes

Tooth enamel degradation can result from mechanical wear and tear, for example from grinding at night. Another reason can be frequent vomiting (e.g. in bulimia).

However, the main cause of enamel breakdown lies in diet. Frequent consumption of acidic foods and drinks contributes to this.

Symptoms: This is how enamel breakdown is noticeable

  • Toothache: Due to the decline in tooth enamel, teeth are more sensitive to hot and cold food.
  • Discoloration: The teeth appear yellower because more dentin is exposed.
  • Transparent edges: the front teeth become transparent near the bite surfaces.
  • Cracks and dents: Cracks and small dents appear on the chewing surface.

Treat tooth enamel degradation

One way to treat tooth enamel that has already been damaged is to use Elmex jelly. As a fluoride paste, the gel is able to stop the demineralization of tooth enamel. Due to the fluoride contained in Elmex jelly, the tooth enamel does not react to acids. However, this has only been shown to be effective on the surface of the tooth enamel.

Elmex jelly is also recommended as a preventive measure.

In order to regenerate the tooth enamel also in deeper layers, the use of a paste enriched with hydroxyapatite is recommended.

Tooth enamel degradation: which foods are good / bad for tooth enamel?

The lower the pH, the more harmful the food is to tooth enamel. Fruit juices and certain types of fruit have a very high acid content. Thus, the breakdown of tooth enamel does not necessarily have to be a consequence of unhealthy diet.

For the preservation of the natural tooth enamel, it does not matter whether the acids are artificially produced or natural. Acidic foods are definitely harmful to tooth enamel.

In terms of pH, foods can be divided into three different groups:

Group 1 (pH value 2.5 to 3.5)

  • Apples and applesauce
  • Strawberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Fruit jam
  • honey
  • orange juice
  • bright grapes

Group 2 (pH 3.6 to 4.5)

  • Cherries
  • Oranges
  • tomatoes
  • cream cheese

Group 3 (pH 4.6 to 5.5)

  • Pickles
  • cottage cheese
  • Maple syrup

Frequent consumption of foods in group one and two increases the risk of tooth enamel breakdown.

Food in the third group has an almost neutral pH value. They neither prevent nor promote tooth enamel degradation.

Tooth enamel breakdown: prevention

Proper oral hygiene and dental care are the best measures to prevent tooth enamel breakdown and tooth decay.

In order not to cause damage when brushing your teeth, the following basic principles should be observed:

  • do not use a toothbrush that is too hard
  • use gentle toothbrushing technique
  • Use the correct brushing system for daily brushing of your teeth
  • Avoid strongly abrasive toothpaste

A change in diet can also prevent tooth enamel breakdown. For this purpose, it is important to avoid acidic foods. Above all, avoid lemonades.

Special toothpaste with fluoride can help to specifically strengthen the softened tooth enamel with minerals. In addition, the use of a fluoride-containing mouth rinse is recommended, which also protects the teeth from acid, and the use of a fluoride jelly.

Chewing gum can also help dilute the acids.

Have your tooth enamel checked by the dentist as part of regular examinations. In addition, professional teeth cleaning at the dentist's twice a year is recommended in order to maintain oral and dental health. At the end of every professional tooth cleaning (PZR), teeth are fluoridated. This hardens the enamel and makes it more resistant to bacteria. Tooth decay can only occur if there are teeth to which the bacteria can attach.

How can you build up tooth enamel?

Tooth enamel is neither supplied with blood nor supplied to the nerves and accordingly cannot build itself up again. Enamel that has already been worn out cannot regenerate. However, the enamel that is still present can be strengthened and protected from further degradation.

Home remedies

A number of home remedies can strengthen tooth enamel. Healthy fats such as coconut oil are suitable for this. Bone broth can also mineralize the tooth again. Vitamin D or calcium supplements can also have a supportive effect.

Toothpaste and jelly

To remineralize the enamel, you should brush your teeth at least twice a day with toothpaste that contains a lot of fluoride. The fluoride from the toothpaste can penetrate the tooth enamel and strengthen it from the inside out again. This not only protects the teeth from further degradation of the enamel. The toothpaste also prevents tooth decay and improves overall oral hygiene. However, the affected areas should not be brushed too hard, as this can further promote the decline in tooth enamel.

In addition to the fluoride toothpaste, we recommend the use of jellies once a week and the daily use of mouthwashes with fluoride.

Schüssler salts

The term Schüssler Salts refers to 27 different medicines that are used to build up or strengthen the mineral balance in the body.

The Schüssler salts 12 and 22 are recommended to strengthen the tooth enamel. They are made up of calcium fluoride, calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate.

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FAQs about tooth enamel and tooth enamel degradation

How to strengthen tooth enamel?

Tooth enamel cannot be rebuilt, but it can be strengthened. The enamel should not be exposed to an acidic pH for too long. Nutrition is an important issue here. Avoid soft drinks such as cola or lemonade, but also wine, juices or sour fruit. This also prevents tooth decay. After eating, you should wait up to 90 minutes before brushing your teeth. Brush with little pressure and with slow movements. Toothpaste with fluoride also has a supportive effect.

What is tooth enamel made of?

Tooth enamel is the hardest tissue in the human body. In the area of ​​the tooth crown, the enamel surrounds the dentin of the tooth. This prevents wear and tear on the stabilizing dentin. The enamel consists of 97% inorganic substances (mainly calcium and phosphate), about 3% are organic.

Which toothpaste for tooth enamel?

There are toothpastes that have been specially developed to strengthen tooth enamel. These toothpastes contain fluoride, which supports remineralization, i.e. the storage of minerals in the tooth enamel. This increases the resistance to acids. Anyone who tends to degrade tooth enamel should therefore use a toothpaste for tooth enamel with fluoride every day. In addition, a fluoride-based mouthwash is recommended after brushing your teeth.

Can toothpaste damage tooth enamel?

Whitening toothpaste can damage your teeth. The particles in whitening toothpastes are said to conjure up white teeth. Above all, exposed tooth necks and damaged tooth enamel can be damaged by particles in the toothpaste that are too coarse.

Which toothbrush for tooth enamel?

Using a sonic toothbrush is a gentle way of cleaning your teeth. The electric toothbrush is only set in a gentle vibration, the bristles are soft. However, when brushing their teeth, users should be careful not to put too much pressure on the teeth. For example, a sonic toothbrush can be much more suitable for protecting tooth enamel than a normal manual toothbrush.


  • Denta Expert: www.denta-expert.de
  • Health guide: www.gesundheits-guide.at
  • Medilexi: www.medlexi.de/
  • Oral B: www.oralb.de
  • Dental medicine portal: www.portal-der-zahnmedizin.de
  • Dentist dr. Seidel: www.zahnarzt-drseidel.de
  • Dental practice Knop: www.zahnarztpraxis-knop.de