Your teeth are made up of three layers; pulp, dentin, and enamel. This third outer layer, the enamel, is responsible for protecting your teeth from everything they face during the day, such as food, drink, chewing and biting, and cold air. But your enamel can wear away over time, leading to oral problems like cavities and tooth sensitivity. Read on to find out more about enamel and how you can keep yours in good health.
What is enamel?
Enamel is the outer surface of your teeth that is visible when you smile, and it is actually the hardest substance in the whole body. It is mostly made up of calcium phosphate minerals. This tough outer layer is there to protect the inner layers of your teeth, as these are more sensitive and more vulnerable to damage.
What happens when enamel wears away?
Over time, your enamel can start to weaken and wear away. This occurs when the teeth and the enamel are exposed to different types of acids. So, food and drink that is acidic, like citrus fruits and vinegar, can damage and weaken your enamel if you consume them in excess and don’t properly clean your teeth at least twice a day. Stomach acid is also damaging, meaning people with acid reflux or bulimia, for example, could be at risk of weakened enamel.
Other conditions (like bruxism and xerostomia), medications, and even genetic factors can cause damage to the enamel over time. When this occurs, the affected teeth are likely to be sensitive, particularly to cold drinks and the cold air, which can cause a lot of pain. You will also be at greater risk of developing cavities and tooth decay due to the lack of protection. Your body cannot repair its enamel once it has been damaged.
How to protect enamel from damage
So, what can you do to make sure your enamel stays in good shape and continues to protect your dental health? Watching what you eat and drink, and following a daily oral hygiene routine are key. Avoid a diet that’s too high in sugar or acidic foods. Plaque converts sugar to acid, which is how a high-sugar diet can damage your teeth. Brushing and flossing regularly will help to keep plaque at bay, protecting your teeth and enamel.
When you do drink sugary drinks, using a straw can help to reduce the contact the liquid has with the surface of your teeth. Drinking lots of water throughout the day can help to wash away potentially damaging food debris, as well as preventing dry mouth. And see your dentist regularly to monitor the health of your enamel. They can advise you if you need to make any changes.
If you’re due a dental check-up, contact Advance Family Dentists to book an appointment or for more oral health and hygiene advice.