Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. It forms a thin layer on the outside of your teeth to protect your chompers from everyday wear and tear. Without enamel, your teeth wouldn’t last very many years, nor would you be able to enjoy some of your favorite foods. What exactly is enamel, how do you protect it and does it ever come back once you lose it?
What Precisely Is Enamel?
Your teeth have four layers. Enamel protects the crown of your tooth, or the part that sticks out from your gums. Directly underneath the enamel is the dentin. Dentin gives your teeth their pearly white color. Underneath the dentin is the pulp, or the innermost part of the tooth where the blood vessels and nerves reside.
The enamel is a layer of minerals that is just a few millimeters thick. It is translucent, which means light can pass through it, but you can’t see through it clearly. This substance allows you to chew your food, drink hot or cold liquids, grind down any tough pieces of meat and bite off chunks of fresh apples. Without your teeth, you wouldn’t be able to eat a lot of foods that you love. Unfortunately, some foods actually cause enamel erosion.
Acids in your teeth can decay enamel over several years. These acids come from sugary foods and drinks, acid reflux disease, acid-producing medicines such as aspirin or antihistamines, or not enough saliva in your mouth. Soda, fruit drinks, soft candies, flavored water and potato chips could all contribute to the amount of acid in your mouth. This acid slowly wears away your enamel, so you may not notice this happening right away.
Daily use can also wear down the enamel. If you bite something very hard or hit your head against something, the enamel on your tooth may chip or crack suddenly rather than wear away gradually. Grinding your teeth together, clenching teeth and crunching can damage the outer layer of your teeth quickly rather than gradually.
Side Effects of Enamel Erosion
All of these things can damage enamel and cause various difficulties. Hot and cold drinks may cause nerve pain in your mouth. You might have trouble chewing because the inner part of your tooth has more and more pressure on it. Your teeth could turn yellow because so much enamel wears away that you see the inner layer of your teeth. You might get cavities, which causes sensitivity, bleeding and even more tooth decay.
Sadly, enamel doesn’t grow back because it is made completely of minerals and not living tissue. Although you can’t grow new enamel, dentists and at-home tooth care products can help repair the damage or prevent more enamel loss in the future.
Prevent Further Damage
Prevent further damage to your enamel by taking several steps. Cut back on sugary foods, especially soft ones that may linger in your teeth for several hours after eating. Snack less during the day because eating more produces more acid in your mouth. Consume ample amounts of dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, because the calcium found in dairy helps keep teeth strong.
Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste can protect your teeth from everyday damage. The fluoride adds a thin layer of protection by encouraging calcium and phosphorus to come back to the surface of your teeth. Brush regularly, but brush gently and not too hard. Brushing too hard or too often can actually wear away the enamel. Don’t brush too soon after eating sugary or acidic foods, because that may spread the acid around and cause further damage.
Regular dental checkups also help prevent damage to enamel. Your dentist can recommend how to take care of your teeth, and a dental hygienist can clean your teeth professionally during your checkup. Follow your dentist’s care instructions for a lifetime of healthy teeth and strong enamel.
Your dentist might offer other services that may make your enamel look and feel better. A dentist can repair a tooth with high-tech materials that cover or replace any damage done previously. The repairs make your teeth stronger and whiter.
Does Tooth Whitening Damage Enamel?
Many dental patients ask if tooth whitening is safe or if it damages teeth. The answer is that there is no evidence whatsoever that tooth whiteners damage the outer layer of teeth. Dentists perform tooth whitening with patients in the office all of the time under close supervision. A dentist’s office uses professional-strength products that may whiten your teeth a few shades in just an hour. These professional services can get expensive, though.
For home whitening kits, the trick is to follow the directions on the package. Over-the-counter teeth whiteners are often less effective, but less expensive, than those administered by dental offices. However, you, the consumer, has full control over how much whitening you want and it costs much less money. See what InstaDazzle can do for you today as you bring back your winning smile.