Your teeth are one of the most important features of your face. Not only do they help you chew and speak, but they also play a role in your overall appearance. That’s why it’s so important to take care of them! One way to do that is by understanding tooth enamel. In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about tooth enamel: what it is, how it’s formed, and how to protect it!
What is tooth enamel?
Enamel is a thin but tough layer of your teeth that’s responsible for their translucency and protects them during daily oral activities. It’s the hardest tissue of the human body and covers the portion of the teeth that’s visible. The enamel is composed primarily of hydroxyapatite, which is a crystalized calcium phosphate. While this material is made to be strong, it has some weaknesses and it is also brittle.
How is tooth enamel formed?
Tooth enamel is produced by cells called ameloblasts. These cells form into enamel before the tooth erupts through the gums. Human bodies have minimal ability to repair the structure of our teeth if they get damaged. Therefore it is very important to keep your teeth in good shape and to avoid foods and drinks that can damage your tooth enamel.
What causes damage to tooth enamel?
There are many things that can damage tooth enamel. Chips and cracks can damage the enamel of our teeth, but the biggest culprit is tooth decay from bacteria. When plaque and tartar build up on our teeth, the bacteria can start to eat away at the enamel. This process is called demineralization and it weakens the structure of our teeth. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to serious problems like cavities, gum disease, and even tooth loss!
These bacteria in our mouth eat food particles in your mouth. Sugar and starches are one of the main culprits behind tooth decay, and they can also contribute to other dental problems such as gum disease. When sugar comes into contact with our teeth, it provides a food source for the bacteria that live in our mouths. These bacteria produce acids that weaken and destroy tooth enamel, causing cavities.
In addition, sugar can also stick to teeth and promote the growth of plaque. Plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria, and it can lead to gum inflammation and infection. Therefore, it is important to limit sugar intake to help keep our teeth healthy and reduce the risk of dental problems.
More causes of tooth decay
In addition to sugar consumption, here are some other ways people often damage their teeth include:
- Dry mouth: Saliva protects our mouth by washing away food and neutralizing acids. When we don’t produce enough saliva, our mouth is more susceptible to cavities and other dental problems.
- Acidic foods and drinks: Foods and beverages with a high acid content can damage tooth enamel. Examples include citrus fruits, tomatoes, sports drinks, and soda.
- Pregnancy: Pregnancy can create a variety of issues with dental health so it is important to be very vigilant about oral hygiene and preventive dental care during that time.
- Smoking and tobacco use: Smoking is one of the leading causes of tooth loss because it increases the risk of gum disease. Tobacco use also stains teeth and decreases saliva production.
- Certain medications: Some medicines and treatments we undergo can create problems for our dental health including chemotherapy and radiation. Also aspirin and antihistamines can also cause problems.
- Certain medical conditions: Illnesses such as diabetes and eating disorders can also affect our teeth and gums.
- Bruxism: This is when people grind or clench their teeth. It can cause tooth enamel to wear down over time and lead to other dental problems.
How can I protect my tooth enamel?
There are several ways you can protect your tooth enamel:
- Brush twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush your teeth gently
- Use fluoride toothpaste
- Avoid acidic foods and drinks
- Floss daily
- Avoid sugary and acidic foods and drinks
- Use a straw when drinking sugary or acidic beverages
- Chew sugar free gum after meals
- Limit your consumption of alcohol
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco products
- Visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings
- Drink plenty of water
What are symptoms of tooth decay?
The symptoms of tooth decay can vary depending on the severity of the decay. In its early stages, tooth decay may not cause any symptoms. As it progresses, you may experience:
- Visible pits or holes in your teeth
- Tooth sensitivity to hot, cold or sweet foods
- Pain when biting down
- Mild to severe toothache
- Bad breath
In its later stages, tooth decay can lead to:
- Abscesses (pockets of infection)
- Tooth loss
- Bone loss
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible. They will be able to diagnose the problem and recommend the best course of treatment.
Treating damaged tooth enamel?
When tooth enamel is damaged, it can lead to a number of dental problems. The inner layers are exposed and susceptible to decay and other damage. Treatment for damaged tooth enamel typically involves dental restoration. This can involve fillings, onlays, inlays, dental crowns, and root canals. In severe cases, tooth extraction may be necessary.
If you think you have damaged your tooth enamel, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible. They will be able to assess the damage and recommend the best course of treatment.