Did you know that your teeth are composed of several substances, including enamel, dentin, pulp, the root canal, nerves, and blood vessels? It’s a common misconception that teeth are bones; and because teeth aren’t bones, they cannot regenerate and must be protected and repaired. As the outermost layer of each tooth, enamel plays a critical role in the protection of teeth. To better understand the importance of tooth enamel, please scroll down.
What Is Tooth Enamel?
Tooth enamel is the outermost layer of each tooth, which makes it the most visible part of each tooth as well. It is highly mineralized and primarily composed of hydroxyapatite (a crystalline calcium phosphate). Since it doesn’t contain living cells, it cannot regrow or repair itself if it is damaged.
Enamel is the hardest substance in the body, but that doesn’t mean it is immune to damage.
The Importance of Tooth Enamel
A strong barrier, enamel protects the inner layers of your teeth, including the dentin and pulp. It safeguards against decay caused by acids and plaque, and it protects the sensitive inner layers of the tooth from extreme temperatures (like hot and cold foods). Without enamel, teeth would sustain serious damage and have an increased risk of infection.
In addition, enamel helps keep your teeth bright and white. Although it’s translucent, it varies in color – from grayish white to beige – so it can discolor your teeth if it becomes damaged. Dentin, which lies beneath the shell of enamel, is primarily responsible for the color of the teeth.
Maintaining Tooth Enamel
Unfortunately, tooth enamel cannot be restored. Fortunately, maintaining healthy tooth enamel is not an intense or rigorous process. Use the following tips to protect your tooth enamel.
Avoid acidic foods and drinks.
Most enamel damage is caused by acidic foods and drinks, which weaken the enamel in a process known as acid erosion. Beware of the following foods and beverages:
- Citrus juice
- Citrus (lemons, oranges, grapefruits, etc.)
- Sports drinks
- Tonic water
- Berries, cherries, and cranberries
- Iced tea
- Apple juice
- Salad dressing
- Tomatoes and tomato juice
Sugary foods and drinks damage tooth enamel as well. Why? Acid erosion also occurs when the oral bacteria in plaque produces acid, which then interacts with sugar found in the food we eat. This causes tooth enamel to demineralize.
Limit your consumption of acidic and sugary foods when possible. In addition, avoid biting down on hard candy and ice. Although enamel is extremely hard, it can cause your teeth to crack or chip.
Brush and floss your teeth regularly.
Good oral hygiene habits help protect your enamel. Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day (with fluoride toothpaste), floss at least once a day, and use mouthwash. However, beware of brushing your teeth too roughly or using an abrasive whitening toothpaste, both of which can cause enamel abrasion, weakening the tooth.
If you don’t have a toothbrush and toothpaste handy after an acidic or sugary meal, you can rinse your mouth with water to prevent acid and sugar from sitting on your teeth until you’re able to brush.
Visit your dentist.
Finally, visit your dentist at least twice a year for check-ups. Your dentist can examine the enamel of your teeth and let you know if you’re suffering from acid erosion or enamel abrasion. You might not notice a loss of enamel at first because the symptoms are subtle at the beginning. If your enamel has decayed significantly, your dentist may recommend one of several enamel restoration procedures to protect your vulnerable tooth.
If you’re looking for an experienced, reliable, and friendly dentist near Springfield, Missouri, contact Wilkinson Dental. Dr. Wilkinson and his team will give you the personalized treatment you deserve using state-of-the-art technology. For exceptional and comprehensive dental care, schedule your first appointment today by calling 417-708-0556 or requesting an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!