If your smile is straight and white, at face value, you might think your teeth are strong and healthy. Unfortunately, weak enamel can plague your smile without discoloring your teeth. Enamel is the outermost layer of your teeth. It is the area of the tooth covering the crown, which is the part that is seen outside of the gums.
Because enamel is an opaque material, light is able to shine through it, showing off the appearance of the dentin layer below it, which is usually a white, off white, grey, or yellowish hue. Colorful drinks, like tea, cola, and red wine, along with cigarette smoke, can stain your enamel, giving your teeth a more yellow appearance. While certain foods are known to stain your enamel, some foods can also cause enamel damage.
Despite being the hardest substance in our bodies, tooth enamel is still susceptible to decay. Strong enamel is a key player in a healthy smile and long-term dental health. Luckily, there are a variety of ways to strengthen your enamel, even after some decay has occurred.
What is the Function of Enamel?
Enamel is one of the most important parts of your dental anatomy. It shields your teeth from daily wear and tear caused by chewing, biting, and grinding. Enamel keeps the sensitive under layers of your teeth from feeling pain when exposed to hot and cold temperatures and chemicals.
Even though enamel is a strong substance, it can still crack and chip, when exposed to severe pressure or other stressors, like decay. When humans break a bone, the cells in and around the bone are able to repair the damage. Unlike other bones in the body, once enamel is chipped or destroyed, the damage is permanent, because enamel does not have living cells to repair itself.
What Causes Enamel Decay?
There are many causes of enamel decay, but the most frequent are caused from acid erosion. Acid erosion can occur from:
● Routine soft drink consumption, because they are high in phosphoric and citric acids.
● Routine fruit drink exposure, because they are high in citric acids.
● Dry mouth or low saliva production.
● Acid reflux disorder, or GERD.
● Certain medications, like aspirin and and antihistamines.
● Genetics. Some people are born with softer or harder enamel.
● Environmental stressors. Trauma, teeth grinding, and jaw clenching can all cause decay.
Can Enamel Regenerate?
While tooth enamel cannot be regenerated, certain products and lifestyle changes can help repair small abrasions that might be weakening your enamel. One of the main things you can do is avoid eating and drinking things that might weaken your enamel.
For stronger enamel, you should try and avoid consuming acidic food and drinks, along with sugary foods and simple carbohydrates. Bacteria in your mouth feast on foods that adheres to your teeth, like cakes, ice cream, honey, dried fruit, hard candy, chips, and sugars. When bacteria feeds on these substances, they create an acid byproduct that destroys your enamel. Highly acidic food and drinks, like food and drinks that are high in citric acid, can directly damage your enamel.
If you are prone to teeth grinding and jaw clenching, you should sleep with a mouth guard and try to eliminate stressors in your life that might be leading to these habits. Enamel erosion is often easy to recognize. Teeth with enamel erosion are more sensitive to hot and cold foods. If you are experiencing sensitive teeth, we recommend visiting our office as soon as possible, as we will able to offer support in restrengthening your teeth.
Strengthening Tooth Enamel
While enamel cannot be restored once it is lost, there are ways to strengthen enamel through a process known as remineralization. Remineralization occurs when you use products containing remineralization agents, like fluoride and calcium. Fluoride is known to be one of the best ways to improve enamel health. Most cities in America have fluoridated water. If you consume bottled water, you might think about switching to fluoridated water. Another way to remineralize your teeth is by consuming a diet that is rich in calcium and vitamin D. Some foods you can try consuming for a healthier mouth, include: whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean meats, and low-fat cheeses and cow milk.
At the Office of Mahamed Saccoh, DDS, we can also recommend a variety of effective fluoride toothpastes and rinses to improve your enamel health.
For inquiries, contact us and schedule an appointment.