The Importance of Tooth Enamel
Tooth enamel is the first line of defense between your teeth and the plaque, bacteria and tartar that cause tooth decay. Enamel plays a vital role in keeping your teeth strong, ready to bite and chew. Strong tooth enamel marks the sign of a healthy mouth. Learn more about how enamel protects your teeth and how you can protect your tooth enamel.
What Is Tooth Enamel and Why Is It Important?
Tooth enamel is a mineral that forms the outermost layer of your teeth. It is the hardest part of the body and provides excellent protection for the delicate pulp inside your teeth.
Every day, your tooth enamel withstands attacks from acids, including those manufactured in your mouth when you eat and those that come from acidic foods like oranges or tomato sauce. Food with sugar or starch can become acidic in your mouth, and the plaque and bacteria that result can harm your enamel, softening or even eliminating it.
How to Protect Tooth Enamel Naturally
Making special efforts to protect your tooth enamel will keep your mouth healthy and lessen your chances of developing cavities. You can keep it safe in a number of different ways:
- Be careful when you brush: Abrasions caused by overzealous brushing can wear down tooth enamel just as quickly as acid. Brush your teeth gently and use a toothbrush with a small head.
- Avoid soda and other acidic drinks: These can damage tooth enamel.
- Drink through a straw: Your teeth will be less exposed to potentially harmful acid in your beverages.
Flossing daily can protect your tooth enamel from gradual loss, too, by removing bacteria and plaque around the gumline. Be careful when removing a retainer or dentures from your mouth, as these can scrape against tooth enamel and cause abrasion.
How to Prevent Tooth Enamel Loss
You can watch for signs of tooth enamel erosion to know when additional steps might be necessary to combat enamel loss. Symptoms can include:
- Tooth sensitivity, especially when eating or drinking hot or cold foods
- Discoloration or yellowing of the teeth
- Rough edges on the teeth
You cannot replace tooth enamel once it has eroded or been scraped off. But you can strengthen the enamel you have and reduce the loss from overbrushing and acid. You can look for toothpaste that protects the gums and enamel, and you can also use an anti-bacterial mouthwash after every meal to rinse away bacteria that may eat away at tooth enamel if you do not remove them.
Certain conditions can contribute to tooth enamel loss, including bulimia and excessive drinking of alcohol that leads to vomiting. If you suffer from either of these, seeking help can aid you in a difficult situation and end a cycle of enamel erosion caused by stomach acid.
Continuing with your regular oral hygiene habits, including brushing twice a day, will also help prevent tooth enamel loss. To learn more about tooth enamel or consult with a dentist about enamel loss, contact our office directly or set up an appointment online.