If you’ve watched live TV or any TV with ads, you may have listened to a dentist on a commercial talking about the importance of protecting your tooth enamel. It’s easy to fast forward past these commercials, but they may lead you to wonder, “What is tooth enamel?” When you come to the experts at Columbia Smiles, we can tell you what this substance is, and why it’s so important. If you’re interested in dental services at Columbia Smiles, contact us today.
What Is Tooth Enamel?
When you’re asking, “What is tooth enamel?” the answer is relatively straightforward. The term “tooth enamel” refers to the hard surface layer of your teeth. It is your teeth’s primary defense against decay and is the body’s hardest mineral substance. While your enamel is more durable than bone, acids that foods and drinks introduce can place your enamel in danger. Sodas and sweets in particular produce plaque bacteria, which can weaken and destroy your tooth enamel, which softens the tooth surface. Furthermore, once plaque has consumed your enamel, it may be gone forever.
Both abrasion and erosion affect your tooth enamel. Abrasion occurs when something rubs against your teeth too hard. By poking your teeth with toothpicks, using a hard-bristled toothbrush, or removing retainers or dentures, you may be causing abrasion. Conversely, when you’re eating certain acidic foods or drinks regularly, you’re causing erosion. When plaque bacteria forms around the gum line, your teeth are also dealing with erosion.
In addition, your tooth enamel may suffer when you’re dealing with a number of conditions that cause erosion. These conditions include:
- Bulimia: Bulimia is an eating disorder, which entails a person vomiting the contents of the stomach after every meal. This practice exposes your teeth to stomach acid, which eats away at your teeth.
- Binge drinking: If you frequently binge drink, you may also get sick repeatedly. By introducing stomach acid to your teeth regularly, you’re allowing your teeth to suffer.
- Acid Reflux: Acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease (otherwise known as GERD), and heartburn also contribute to tooth enamel erosion.
Can I Rebuild My Enamel?
Now that you know what tooth enamel is, you may also be wondering if you can bring back enamel once it’s lost. Unfortunately, the answer is no. However, you can prevent further enamel loss with a regular oral care routine. Certain kinds of toothpaste strengthen weakened enamel and stop enamel loss. They can also help to neutralize the plaque bacteria around your gums, which can weaken the enamel in that area. Most toothpaste also contains fluoride, which can strengthen your enamel against acid. It’s also important to use floss and mouthwash to protect your enamel and teeth further.
When you don’t protect your enamel, it puts you at a higher risk for tooth decay. While you may lose enamel naturally with age, you can stop it by following a regular dental care routine. Make sure to floss and brush your teeth daily. It’s also essential to see a dentist, like the experts at Columbia Smiles, twice a year. This practice ensures that any existing enamel loss doesn’t get out of hand. We can also provide fluoride treatments to further protect your teeth.
Contact Columbia Smiles
At Columbia Smiles, our highly committed team is standing by to make sure you get the best possible dental care. We provide a wide range of dental services, including:
- General dentistry
- Diagnostic dentistry
- Cosmetic dentistry
If you still have questions about tooth enamel and how to care for it, or you would like to make an appointment, contact Columbia Smiles today at 410.690.4855.