It's a word you've probably read on the back of your toothpaste tube, heard your dentist say, and perhaps even muttered to friends when discussing your dental health: enamel. How much do you really know about the outermost layer of your teeth? Read on to learn some important facts about enamel that could impact the way you practice oral hygiene and dental care.
Your enamel is naturally clear.
Most people assume their enamel is white, because they see white when they look at their teeth. However, it's the dentin, the deeper layer of the teeth, that is white. Enamel is clear when the teeth first erupt, but as you drink dark beverages like coffee and tea, it can become stained. When you have a tooth whitening treatment at your dentist's office (or use a home kit to whiten your teeth), what you're really doing is making you enamel clear again so you can see the white dentin through it.
Enamel is a non-living tissue.
You might hear people talk about miracle cures that they used to re-grow their enamel or repair a cavity naturally. These anecdotes are not supported by scientific literature and the general dental community. Since enamel is not a living tissue, it cannot be re-grown. If your enamel is brittle or weak, improving your nitration and using a fluoride rinse can make it stronger, but it won't cause enamel to re-grow in places it has worn away. Dentists generally treat enamel loss by bonding resins to a tooth or placing a cap over it for protection.
Your enamel is your tooth's first level of protection.
It's not just a hard shell that sits on top of the tooth – it's a very important part of your dental anatomy. Enamel is the hardest substance in your body, and its functions include protecting your tooth roots and dentin from damage, and giving your teeth the strength they need to bite into hard foods like pretzels and carrots. If your enamel is destroyed, your teeth instantly become susceptible to cavities and decay caused by oral bacteria. You're also more likely to develop chips and cracks if your enamel is weak.
Since tooth enamel cannot be restored once it is damaged, one of the primary goals of your dental care routine must be to keep it strong and in-tact. Avoid acidic drinks like soda and lemons, which can wear down your tooth enamel. Use a fluoridated toothpaste, sine the fluoride keeps your enamel hard, and drink water throughout the day to keep your mouth moist. Oral bacteria love a dry environment and will break down your enamel more quickly if you don't keep yours moist.
For more information, contact Dentalcare Associates or a similar organization.