10 Things You Need to Know About Tooth Enamel
Your teeth are subject to all kinds of wear and tear. From chomping apples and ripping through steak, to daily brushing and even grinding at night, teeth were built to be tough. One of the parts of teeth is called tooth enamel – that thin, outer layer covering your teeth. Its job is to protect your teeth from weakening and breaking down.
Here are 10 things to know about this invisible powerhouse protecting your teeth:
Enamel Is The Hardest Substance In The Human Body.
Enamel is 97 percent hydroxyapatite, the mineralized form of calcium phosphate, making it harder than bone and steel. Besides serving as armor for the surface layer of your teeth to protect against all that chewing, biting, and mashing, enamel also helps insulate your teeth so hot and cold foods don’t cause pain.
It’s Not Indestructible.
Like your bones, enamel is sturdy, but enamel wears down when not cared for properly.
Once It’s Gone, It’s Gone.
Tooth enamel loss weakens the overall structure of your tooth, putting you at risk for chips, cracks, tooth decay, tooth sensitivity, and infections. And because enamel isn’t composed of living cells, any damage it sustains is permanent. While it’s natural to lose some tooth surface enamel with age, it’s important to help protect what you have.
Tooth Enamel Loss Occurs In Two Ways.
There are two types of enamel loss – abrasion and erosion. Tooth enamel erosion occurs when enamel is overexposed to certain foods and drinks or acids in the stomach that are regurgitated. Abrasion often happens by brushing teeth too aggressively or with hard-bristled toothbrushes, poking teeth with toothpicks, or scraping teeth when removing retainers or dentures.
Focus On Fighting Plaque.
Too much plaque – caused by bacteria that feed on carbohydrates left by food and drinks you consume – will eventually wear down and weaken your enamel. Repeated attacks from plaque bacteria will ultimately wear away and weaken the enamel.
You (And Your Teeth) Are What You Eat.
Sugary food and drinks can wreak damage on your tooth enamel. So can orange juice and other foods with citric acid, which researchers found markedly decreased the hardiness of tooth enamel. Booze is also tough on enamel – the alcohol and acid content reduce saliva in your mouth, which causes bacteria to multiply and plaque to build up.
Get Help For These Issues To Prevent Enamel Loss.
Acid reflux, bulimia, and binge drinking all cause acids from the stomach to regurgitate into the mouth, potentially causing erosion to the surface of the teeth. Grind your teeth at night or clench? Yep, you’re at risk for enamel breakdown too.
Brushing Makes A Difference.
Brushing your teeth for at least two minutes has been shown to rid some 26% more plaque compared to the average brush time of 45 seconds. And upgrading to a tapered-tip toothbrush will help you reach underneath the gum line where plaque may be lurking.
It’s Ok…drink That Tap Water.
Fluoride absorbed from foods, beverages, and dietary supplements makes tooth enamel stronger and more resistant to tooth decay. Studies prove water fluoridation continues to be effective in reducing tooth decay by at least 25% in children and adults, according to the American Dental Association.
Regular Dental Checkups Matter.
Protecting your tooth enamel is key to your dental health. Visit your dentist twice yearly for cleanings and checkups to help identify tartar buildup and potential tooth enamel loss or damage.
Questions about your oral hygiene? Your team at CNS Dental is always here to help—be sure to talk to us at your next visit!