DENTISTRY Article reprinted with the permission of DVM360. The article was originally printed in DVM360, August, 2016. DVM360 Magazine is a copyrighted publication of Advanstar. Communications inc. All rights reserved. The ABCs of Veterinary Dentistry: "E" is for Enamel Jan Bellows, DVM, DAVDC, DABVP, FAVD The fun continues on our alphabetic journey through the management of our veterinary patients' oral problems. Make sure your knowledge of what can go wrong with this natural tooth covering — the hardest substance in the body — isn't too superficial. Enamel, formed during tooth eruption, is 96% mineral, making it the hardest structure in dog’s and cat’s bodies. Dentin is the second hardest tissue, being 70% mineral and 30% organic (water, collagen and mucopolysaccharide). Enamel covers and protects the tooth crown. It is avascular and has no nerve supply. If the enamel is damaged, it cannot self-repair as compared with dentin, which can. On radiographs, enamel appears more radiodense than dentin and pulp tissue since enamel is more mineralised than both (Figure 1). Many conditions can affect enamel, some of which need care while others do not. Treatment generally depends on the proximity of the lesion to the underlying dentin, which, through tubules, communicates with the tooth’s sensitive pulp. In a young dog or cat, the pulp is large and close to the enamel. As the animal ages, Figure 1. An intraoral radiograph with arrows pointing to radiodense enamel. (Unless otherwise indicated, photos courtesy of Dr. Jan Bellows) Figure 3A. Fence chewing resulting in loss of enamel and dentin with near pulp exposure on the distal surfaces of both mandibular canines. Figure 2. Tooth anatomy showing the proximity of enamel and pulp. (Illustration by Mathews Albert) Issue 06 | DECEMBER 2016 | 6 Figure 3B. Tennis ball chewing resulting in excessive perpendicular wear of maxillary incisors and canines.