the outer coating of (the) teeth

GeneD

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The cause of tooth decay in human beings is a bacterium that feeds on the sugar in our food. It digests the sugar more easily by converting it into an acid. The acid then dissolves the enamel, the outer coating of the (?)teeth, and finally attacks the living nerve within. The result is the agonizing pain we know as toothache.

Is the underlined definite article in the example above really needed?
 

emsr2d2

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Re: the use of articles

It's not absolutely necessary but it reads better with it.
 

Matthew Wai

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Re: the use of articles

I think 'the teeth' refers to 'the teeth on which the enamel is'.
 

GeneD

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Matthew Wai

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Re: the use of articles

In the dictionary, enamel is the hard white outer layer of teeth.
In your context, the enamel is the outer coating of the teeth which the author is talking about.

That's how I understand it.
 

Rover_KE

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Re: the use of articles

Please note that I have changed your thread title.

Extract from the Posting Guidelines:

'Thread titles should include all or part of the word/phrase being discussed.'
 

GeneD

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Re: the use of articles

In your context, the enamel is the outer coating of the teeth which the author is talking about.
The cause of tooth decay in human beings... That's how the text starts. The author is talking about the teeth in human beings (i.e. in general).
 

tzfujimino

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Re: the use of articles

When I read the text, I had a mental image of something like this:
https://youtu.be/_oIlv59bTL4

I think I agree with Matthew - "the teeth" refers to those dissolved by the acid.
 

GeneD

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Re: the use of articles

When I read the text, I had a mental image of something like this:
https://youtu.be/_oIlv59bTL4

I think I agree with Matthew - "the teeth" refers to those dissolved by the acid.
Well, I think I'm beginning to understand.

On one hand we have the sentence "The acid then dissolves the enamel, the outer coating of the teeth, and finally attacs the living nerve within", which could be rephrased as "The acid then dissolves the enamel (the enamel is the outer coat of teeth if you didn't know), and finally attacks the nerve within". The enamel = the outer coating of teeth. To me, the very definition from macmillan dictionary.

On the other hand (provided I've understood you correctly), even while speaking about things in general, it appears to be more natural to talk about them as if they were just a particular example (the mental image you had while reading the text). Am I beginning to see the light? :) Or not?

 

Matthew Wai

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Re: the use of articles

to talk about them as if they were just a particular example (the mental image you had while reading the text).
I think 'the teeth', the particular example, were in the writer's head (imagination).
 
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