The toughest substance in your body isn’t your bones — it’s your dental enamel. This fact is a good thing because your dental enamel must withstand heat and cold as well as biting into hard substances. As the most mineralized substance in your body, tooth enamel is layer upon layer of minerals that protect the inner portions of your teeth from damage and decay.
Unfortunately, while dental enamel is the strongest substance in your body, it is not invincible. Enamel can erode and break down over time, especially after prolonged exposure to acids and build-up bacteria known as plaque. In addition to breakdown in enamel that can happen over time, enamel can be subject to chipping and cracking from a traumatic injury or biting on a hard substance such as ice.
If your dental enamel has small cracks in it, you can experience symptoms such as pain when eating something hot, cold or sugary as these substances are known to affect your tooth’s nerves.
When tooth enamel starts to break down, it is difficult, if not impossible, to grow back. That is why protecting your dental enamel is vital to keeping your teeth healthy and cavity-free.
Protecting Your Dental Enamel
In addition to regular visits to the Royal Lakes Family and Cosmetic Dentistry office for a thorough teeth cleaning to remove built-up bacteria, there are steps you can take to prevent enamel breakdown.
The first step is to always brush with a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Fluoride is a mineral that deposits on the teeth to strengthen and protect them. Look for a toothpaste that has the American Dental Association’s “Seal of Approval,” which can indicate the toothpaste contains enough fluoride to be effective. In addition to an ADA-approved toothpaste, brush with an ADA-approved toothbrush as well. The bristles do not have to be hard — a soft-bristled toothbrush will help you get the job done as well.
Next, you may wish to ask your dentist if you need any additional fluoride or teeth-strengthening treatments. For example, some dentists can prescribe a slightly stronger fluoride-containing toothpaste or recommend a fluoride-containing mouthwash to be regularly used to strengthen tooth enamel.
Taking excellent care of your teeth can prevent tooth decay that breaks down dental enamel. In addition to brushing at least twice per day, you should also floss at least once per day. Flossing gets those hard-to-reach areas where food particles can build up, leading to decay.
Finally, watching your dietary habits can also help. Drinking excess sodas can harm your dental enamel because they are high in decay-causing acids. While fruit juices and citrus drinks contain acids as well, they have added health benefits and should be enjoyed in moderation. Avoiding sugary candies can also help because bacteria use sugars as their “food.” Refrain from biting into hard foods, such as ice and hard candies because these can lead to chipped and cracked teeth.