Teeth are built to last a lifetime. First, our milk teeth – or primary teeth – arrive, which start falling out naturally by around the age of six-years-old, and our secondary adult teeth arrive as tougher replacements. This set should see us through the rest of our life. They have a thicker protective layer of enamel than milk teeth, which is why your second set of teeth might look less white than your milk teeth.
The enamel surface protecting our teeth is the hardest part of our body. Perhaps surprisingly, even stronger than bone! That’s because enamel is almost 100% (96% to be precise) made of densely compact minerals (hydroxyapatite if you’re interested, also known as crystalline calcium phosphate), and it’s the world’s strongest biological mineral. If we use the Mohs Hardness Scale (a scale introduced by geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Mohs in 1812), tooth enamel is harder than gold, iron and even steel. But it chips easily because it’s so brittle. So don’t use your teeth to open something sharp, as enamel won’t grow back if it’s damaged, as it’s not a living tissue like bone. That’s another reason why we need to look after our teeth.
The good news is that we can prevent tooth decay. Here’s how –
- Clean your teeth to remove old food every day.
- Use toothpaste with fluoride to create a protective layer against bacteria.
- Use floss or dental brushes to get rid of the bits that a brush might not reach.
- Eat less sugar!
Long live tooth enamel!