The enamel is a thin outer translucent covering of the tooth. Specifically, it covers the visible part of the tooth called the crown of the tooth. The enamel is the hardest substance present in the human body composed mainly of calcium hydroxyapatite and partly of organic materials (proteins).
The main structural units of the enamel are the interlocking columns called enamel rods (enamel prisms). The arrangement of these rods is crucial for the enamel's hardness.
The enamel is secreted by the specialized epithelial cells called ameloblasts via the process called amelogenesis. The ameloblasts have an apical cytoplasmic extension called the Tomes process. This portion of cytoplasm is filled with secretory granules containing the substance of the enamel matrix. After the ameloblasts complete the deposition of the enamel they enter the maturation stage. The cells then secrete more minerals on the enamel while absorbing most of its proteins. This process hardens the enamel further.
The main function of the enamel is to form a barrier that protects the underlying dental pulp and other vital tissues of the tooth from physical, thermal, and chemical factors.
Latin synonym: Substantia adamantina
|Definition||The outer translucent covering of the crown of the tooth.|
|Function||Protection of the underlying structures of the tooth.|
Learn everything about the anatomy of the tooth with the following study unit:
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