White teeth – everyone wants them or wants to maintain them. Did you know that what keeps our teeth white is a protective coating called enamel? Enamel is the thin transparent outer layer, a coating covering over your teeth, that acts as an armor of sorts, to protect the teeth from daily wear and tear, and from staining and bacteria that can build up into plaque and tartar, a threat to the health and longevity of teeth.
Despite enamel being a thin coating, it actually happens to be the hardest tissue in the body. Due to using our mouths for various things on a daily basis, such as eating, drinking, talking, etc., the teeth become vulnerable and under attack. In return, the enamel starts to wear away or erode, causing the tooth and its structure to no longer be protected, making it easy for them to become damaged, i.e., cracked, chipped, or weak.
While the body has this amazing ability to heal and repair itself, unfortunately that is not the case for enamel. Since the coating of enamel on our teeth does not contain living cells, unlike our body being able to heal a broken bone for example, when there is damage to tooth enamel, due to acid, sugar, stress, and other factors, unfortunately, this can be a sign indicating other potential problems.
If you are concerned about the health of your tooth enamel, look out for the following indications of enamel erosion:
- Discoloration (yellowing)
- Tooth sensitivity ranging from mild to severe (hot and cold food and drinks)
- Cracks and chips
- Tooth indentations
- Cavities and tooth decay
Due to the enamel corroding and wearing away, cavities can occur as a result. Cavities are a form of tooth decay, so when the enamel on teeth starts to wear away, the lack of protective covering makes our teeth open and vulnerable to bacteria entering the mouth. If a cavity or tooth decay goes untreated, it affects the tiny nerve fibers in the tooth, which can result in an infection or abscess, even making us sick, as our immune system becomes compromised.
Tooth enamel won’t grow back or be as white if we don’t learn how to take care of it properly. The good news is, enamel can be protected, to strengthen your teeth against harmful bacteria and tooth decay.
Treating the loss of tooth enamel depends on the person, the cause, the severity of the tooth enamel damage, and if any tooth decay is present. Along with applying practices of good oral hygiene, including brushing twice daily, flossing, and seeing your dentist regularly for cleaning and checkups, there are other ways to protect your tooth enamel. These methods include:
· With a soft-bristle toothbrush brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste, which helps rebuild weakened tooth enamel and reverse signs of early tooth decay. Whitening toothpastes are another alternative, but fluoride is the best option for protecting enamel.
- Stay hydrated, as drinking water helps moisturize the mouth, so it doesn’t become dry, and compensates for the sometimes-reduced saliva production.
- Avoid eating and drinking acidic or corrosive things such as soda, and citrus fruits, such as lemons.
- Rinse your mouth and brush your teeth after meals.
- Eat foods like carrots and celery that help clean your teeth.
- Chew sugar-free gum, as it increases saliva production and believe it or not helps to strengthen your teeth.
- Ask your dentist about using a fluoride mouthwash as well as a fluoride toothpaste, for even more enamel protection. Also ask about dental sealants, which is a coating painted on the surfaces of the teeth to prevent tooth decay. The sealant bonds to the grooves within your teeth and forms a protective shield over the enamel of each set of teeth.