Your tooth’s enamel is the key to its health. That’s because the enamel is the outermost, protective layer of your teeth. It is the first defense against cavities and tooth decay. Our enamel erodes over time because of wear and tear, but can modern medicine replace it? Here is some key information on a fascinating substance that keeps you smiling.
Enamel is the hard, shiny, white substance that covers our teeth. It’s durable and can take a lot of contact. Over time, however, our daily habits can affect the strength of the enamel. This wearing away of the enamel is called demineralization. Foods that are high in sugar can weaken the enamel, causing plaque to settle on its surface. When plaque becomes hardened, it’s called tartar. Both of these substances can cause the beginning signs of cavities and gum disease.
The enamel can be restored at a certain point, a process called mineralization. Mineralization is the process of re-mineralizing the teeth after damage is done to the enamel. Fluoride acts to mineralize and strengthen teeth. That’s why we typically recommend using a toothpaste that contains the mineral fluoride. It helps replenish the enamel. Drinking plenty of water and daily dental hygiene are also ways to mineralize and keep enamel strong.
Food particles that are left behind after meals feed the bacteria in our mouths. This leads to tartar and plaque forming on the enamel, which will break it down over time. Your tooth enamel can also be weakened by abrasive substances, like baking soda, charcoal, and acidic food and drinks.
Right now, scientists are working on solutions to replace tooth enamel. One example is a gel that has been formulated to help the enamel repair itself. Researchers in China at the Zhejiang University and Xiamen University are working on this gel by using calcium and phosphate as ingredients to strengthen the teeth. They used this gel on unattached human teeth and have had successful results. The next step is to see if it works on living specimens. In the meantime, we need to take care of our enamel to make sure it doesn’t break down in the first place.
Keep up that daily dental routine to mineralize teeth and make sure to see the dentist twice a year for cleaning! Only our professional dental tools can remove hardened tartar and protect the enamel. Ask us about fluoride treatments at your next appointment. This will help keep your enamel strong. We hope to see you soon!