What Happens When Tooth Enamel is Damaged? Find Out Everything You Need to Know, Here...

Thursday, April 22, 2021
What Happens When Tooth Enamel is Damaged? Find Out Everything You Need to Know, Here...

If you had to guess, what would you say the hardest substance is in the human body? The spine? The skull? You may be surprised to find the answer is tooth enamel. Primarily made up of crystalline calcium phosphate, enamel provides a resilient barrier to protect the teeth from erosion and decay. In spite of its strength, though, certain foods and beverages or years of general wear and tear can cause enamel loss.

And, because damaged tooth enamel does not naturally regenerate, specialized treatment is needed to repair your tooth. Leaving enamel erosion untreated can further compromise your tooth and overall oral health.

Fortunately, Penn Dental Family Practice offers targeted treatments to prevent tooth enamel damage and repair damage that has already occurred. Learn more about what causes tooth enamel damage, how to identify enamel loss, and recommended treatment approaches below.

What Foods Destroy Tooth Enamel?

 A digital illustration shows the structure of a tooth, starting with tooth enamel. As we previously mentioned, wear and tear (over time) and certain foods compromise tooth enamel. Acidic foods, for example, dissolve the mineral structure of teeth. This process then leads to thinning of the teeth.

Take a look at some of the foods and drinks that are unfavorable to the health and integrity of tooth enamel:

  • Citrus Fruits

Lemons, limes, oranges (and even tomatoes).

  • Dried, Sticky Fruits

Raisins, apricots, figs, prunes.

  • Soft Drinks

Even if you tend to indulge in sugar-free sodas, carbonation raises the acidity of any drink.

  • Candy

Candy, especially the “sour” variety can be extremely damaging to your teeth—with some sour candies having acid level close to that of battery acid!

You may have noticed that some items listed above are often considered “healthy.” Citrus fruits, for instance, are typically packed with Vitamin C, and dried fruit often contains fiber and antioxidants. Rather than forsake these foods completely, dental experts recommend limiting them.

And, if you do indulge, try to eat something else alongside your treat that isn’t acidic. Dairy and calcium-rich foods, for example, can help neutralize enamel-damaging acids. Rinsing your mouth with water after meals and drinking plenty of water throughout the day can also help keep acid from harming your tooth enamel.

How Do You Know if Your Tooth Enamel is Damaged?

When tooth enamel starts eroding, you may experience one or more of the following:

  • Coloration of your tooth or teeth that appears yellow or light yellow
  • Pain or sensitivity, especially when your tooth or teeth experiences hot, cold, or sweet drinks
  • Fillings in your mouth have become loose or shifted
  • Tooth loss occurs or an abscess develops (typically in more extreme cases)

How Do You Fix Tooth Enamel?

A young black woman examines her tooth enamel in a handheld mirror.While tooth enamel cannot regenerate or repair itself, there are approaches that can both help prevent and treat loss of enamel. Take a look at five dentist-recommended approaches to help protect and treat your tooth enamel.

1. Prevention: Fluoride and Preventive Care

With preventive care, you can maintain the strength and health of your tooth enamel and proactively avoid damage. Making sure your teeth are receiving sufficient fluoride for optimal resilience is a key preventive action you can take.

Use fluoride toothpaste and opt for supplemental fluoride treatments at your dentist’s office if needed. These actions should be paired with other preventive measures, such as avoiding overly acidic foods, eating a healthy and balanced diet, and practicing regular oral hygiene habits (including regular brushing and flossing).

2. Restoration: Remineralization

Minor damage to the enamel can be restored with remineralization treatments. Remineralizing toothpastes and applicants can help replenish your tooth enamel with calcium and essential minerals. These treatments can typically be performed at home.

3. Repair: Dental Bonding

A young woman drinks a glass of milk outside to help prevent tooth enamel erosion. If damage to your tooth enamel is too advanced for restorative measures to be effective, treatments to repair enamel will be recommended. One treatment option is repairing tooth enamel with dental bonding. Dental bonding involves applying a dental resin to the tooth surface to protect damaged areas and restore the intact surface.

4. Repair: Veneers

Enamel damage is usually experienced on the front of your teeth. If the outward facing area of your teeth have experienced a serious degree of damage, porcelain veneers can replace the enamel.

5. Repair: Crowns

In the most severe cases of enamel damage, the affected teeth can be fitted with dental crowns, which cover the entire surface of the tooth. This protects the interior of the tooth, and is often recommended in cases where damage is not limited to the front of the teeth.

Repair Tooth Enamel at Penn Dental Family Practice

Whatever stage of treatment you need—preventive care, restorative care, or treatments to repair tooth enamel—our team of dentists at Penn Dental Family Practice can provide you with the most effective care available. To learn more about tooth enamel treatments or to schedule an appointment, contact Penn Dental Family Practice today, (215) 898-PDFP.