Tooth enamel is the hardest and strongest substance in your body, playing a vital role in protecting your teeth. It coats the outer layer of your teeth to form a barrier that safeguards the inner layers, including dentin, from the effects of destructive bacteria. Enamel also protects your teeth as you chew and bite food, and provides insulation against tooth sensitivity when you eat hot or cold foods.
However, enamel is still susceptible to decay, and can be broken down by a build-up of tartar around the gum line and on the teeth. Unfortunately, enamel cannot regenerate because it has no living cells. This is why it’s crucial to brush and floss your teeth at least twice each day to get rid of bacteria-producing substances like acids, sugars and starches.
Enamel Loss Through Injury
Enamel can also be lost through dental trauma such as a cracked or chipped tooth. Many instances of impact injury to the mouth occur during contact sports at all levels, particularly when participants fail to wear a mouthguard. Mouth protectors reduce the danger of enamel loss through damaged teeth, and also protect against nerve damage and injuries to the gums, jaw, lips and tongue.
Nightguards can be worn to help prevent enamel loss if you clench or grind your teeth n your sleep.
Remineralizing Your Tooth Enamel
As we’ve already seen, lost tooth enamel cannot be repaired, but weakened enamel can be salvaged by remineralization, which restores the minerals in enamel that have been lost. Your overall health, lifestyle and diet all affect the condition of your enamel, and with the proper preventative care, you can constantly remineralize it.
A diet high in acidic products, sugar and carbohydrates will compromise tooth enamel to some extent, so cutting down on these type of foods and drinks will go a long way towards helping to avoid loss of enamel. Some foods are good for enamel remineralization, especially those like dairy products that are high in calcium, which combats acids in the mouth and also strengthens teeth and bones.
Importance of Saliva and Fluoride
However, the first line of defence against enamel loss is your saliva. Crunchy raw vegetables such as carrots and celery take more chewing, which increases the amount of saliva to flush away enamel-threatening germs in your mouth.
Other foods that boost saliva production include leafy greens and raisins. One word of warning: if you like crunchy apples, the acid in the fruit an actually damage your enamel, so rinse your mouth with mouthwash or water immediately after eating one.
Fluoride toothpastes have long been widely used to remineralize enamel and fight bacteria by making your teeth more resilient against sugars and acids. Fluoride can also reverse early stages of decay.
To minimise the risk of enamel loss, brush for at least two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily to remove food particles your toothbrush cannot reach.
How Your Dentist Can Help
Regular check-ups by your dentist or dental hygienist will also help to keep your enamel working effectively by detecting any areas of demineralization before they become a serious issue.
To help you keep your tooth enamel healthy, Kitchener dentist Lancaster Dental offers a range of preventative care measures including professional cleaning, sealants and fluoride treatments, and can also offer advice on brushing and flossing and oral hygiene aids.