When you last visited your dentist in Grapevine for a routine checkup, they said that the enamel of some of your teeth is wearing down more quickly than others. Is this something you should worry about? Well… yes and no. Although tooth enamel loss occurs gradually, it could still become a serious problem down the road. Here’s what you need to know about recognizing and preventing enamel wear to keep your smile healthy.
But First, What Exactly Is Tooth Enamel?
Enamel is the hard, outermost material of the tooth that protects the layer of softer, more sensitive dentin underneath. It’s also the strongest substance in the human body, even stronger than bone. However, it’s also one of the few areas of the body that cannot repair itself when it sustains damage. That’s why it’s important to preserve the enamel you have.
Signs of Tooth Enamel Loss
Dentin contains microscopic tubules that lead to the nerves in the tooth’s center. When enamel is lost, more dentin is exposed, so these tubules can become easily aggravated by cold or hot stimuli. As a result, temperature sensitivity is a common symptom of enamel wear. Other signs include teeth that are more susceptible to breakage and discoloration (dentin is yellower than enamel). If you experience any of these signs, tell your dentist right away so they can treat the issue before it worsens.
What Happens If Tooth Enamel Is Gone?
In addition to painful sensitivity, enamel loss can cause your teeth to quickly deteriorate. Bacteria can more easily access the inner portions of your tooth, leading to cavities, infections, and even tooth loss.
Can Lost Enamel Be Replaced?
Once enamel has been lost, it cannot regenerate. However, it’s possible to save weakened enamel via a process called remineralization, which strengthens enamel by restoring minerals it has lost. One of these minerals is calcium, so incorporating plenty of calcium-rich foods into your diet (milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.) can help. You could also ask your dentist for recommendations for at-home oral hygiene products that contain the minerals your teeth need.
How to Prevent Enamel Wear
Luckily, enamel loss is fairly easy to prevent if you brush and floss every day. Rinsing with a therapeutic mouthwash can also go a long way toward fortifying your teeth and reducing harmful bacteria in your mouth. You’ll also want to limit acidic foods and beverages like citrus fruits and sodas, as they can accelerate enamel wear. Lastly, make sure to visit your dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning. Not only can your dentist evaluate the state of your enamel, but the hygienist can remove built-up plaque that contributes to enamel loss.
As strong as tooth enamel is, it needs your help to remain that strong. Follow the tips described above, as well as advice from your dentist in Grapevine, to preserve your natural, healthy smile!
About the Author
Dr. Greg Martin is a third-generation dentist who joined Smiles by Martin in 2002 after graduating second in his class from the Howard University College of Dentistry in Washington D.C. He emphasizes a preventive approach to oral health, and he’d be happy to point you toward resources to keep your enamel strong. To learn more, contact Dr. Martin at 817-481-1041.