Enamel is the thin, but very hard, outer coating of your teeth. It protects the inner parts of the tooth including the dentine and the pulp. Only a fraction of a millimeter thick in some parts, enamel never grows back once it's chipped or worn away it.
Exposure to acidic foods or drinks is one of the main reasons that enamel wears away or erodes. This process, known as tooth erosion, leaves the dentine exposed and your teeth much more sensitive.
Dentine is very porous and all the holes in this material have little nerves in them, which means your teeth would be sensitive if the enamel was gone.
Once your teeth become sensitive it can become painful to consume anything hot or cold, or even to brush your teeth. Other signs of tooth erosion include a yellow discolouration, rounded teeth, or even cracking.
You can also damage tooth enamel by grinding your teeth, brushing too hard, or chewing on hard objects, such as pens.
So if you enjoy acidic food or drinks then you might want to:
- rinse your mouth with tap water after eating or drinking (this will help reduce the acidity)
- chew sugar-free gum, (not only does this leave a fresh taste in your mouth, it also encourages saliva production)
- eat a piece of hard cheese (this can also help with the creation of saliva, while the calcium in the cheese helps strengthen your teeth).