School of Health Sciences
Biology: Biomedical Sciences
Dental Hygiene | Dental Public Health and Education | Medicine and Health Sciences | Oral Biology and Oral Pathology
Hill, Anderson, "The Development and Structure of The Tooth Enamel and The Nature of Deterioration" (2022). Senior Honors Theses. 1173.
The tooth enamel is developed through a careful process to give its characteristic hardness, but bacteria colonization in the form of plaque and certain dietary habits can compromise this. The development of the tooth involves an intricate process that incorporates proteins and minerals to produce the toughest tissue in the human body. The enamel possesses a distinct crystal lattice with many minerals involved. Under acidic conditions, the integrity of the crystals that make up the tooth enamel can become compromised. Harmful bacteria, such as Streptococcus mutans of the mouth combine with carbohydrates that are consumed to produce acids that are harmful to the basic crystals making up the tooth enamel. The acidity causes dissolution of the enamel crystals, producing small concavities on the surface of the teeth that can be particularly difficult to clean and thus leads to further deterioration. This demonstrates the importance of maintaining proper dental hygiene to prevent deterioration.