February 7, 2020
Everyone knows that it’s important to keep your enamel healthy with regular brushing and flossing, but how much do you really know about the outermost layer of your teeth? The more you understand about this important part of your teeth, the better you’ll be able to take care of your smile. Read on as your dentist in Reading answers all your questions about tooth enamel.
What is Tooth Enamel?
Enamel is made of a combination of minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, and hydroxyapatite. It’s the hardest substance in your body, even harder than your bones. The protective shell of enamel forms on the surface of your teeth while they’re still developing within the jawbone. Although it’s the most visible part of your smile, it’s translucent enough for the layer of dentin underneath to shine through, making it only partially responsible for the color of your teeth.
What Does Tooth Enamel Do?
While your enamel is what allows you to bite, tear, and grind your food, its primary function is to protect your teeth from decay. Without it, the bacteria in your mouth can easily eat through the underlying layer of dentin, infect the tooth pulp, and attack the nerves. When taken care of properly, the enamel works as an effective barrier between the softer inner parts of your teeth and the outside elements. If it becomes eroded, your teeth may become more sensitive to hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks.
What Can Damage Tooth Enamel?
Enamel is strong, but not indestructible. If it becomes weakened, it can easily chip, crack, or fracture. Normal, everyday use will wear your enamel down over time, but the process can be accelerated by chewing on hard objects like pen caps, fingernails, and ice. Drinking acidic drinks like soda and eating sugary foods like candy will also soften and burn through your enamel.
Can Tooth Enamel Repair Itself?
In a healthy mouth, saliva helps keep your teeth strong. It weakens the harmful acids by diluting them, then coats the enamel with minerals like calcium to restore it. However, unlike your bones, the enamel contains no living cells. This means that once damaged, it cannot repair itself.
How Can I Protect My Enamel?
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can keep your teeth safe and protect your enamel:
- Limit your intake of sugary or acidic foods or drinks.
- Drink plenty of water to wash away bacteria and acid.
- Use mouthwashes and toothpastes fortified with fluoride daily.
Perhaps one of the best things you can do for your enamel is to get a dental checkup and cleaning twice a year. With routine preventive dentistry in Reading, you can ensure that your smile stays strong and healthy!
About the Author
Dr. Gail Iebba of Associates in Family Dentistry has been keeping the smiles of Reading, MA happy and healthy for over 20 years. She is focused on helping you achieve optimal oral health and maintain it for a lifetime, which is why she encourages regular dental checkups twice a year. With services like cleanings and sealants, she can help keep your natural teeth strong for years to come. If you have more questions about the enamel, feel free to contact her via her website or (781) 944-6761.
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