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.
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.
Lemons, limes, oranges (and even tomatoes).
Raisins, apricots, figs, prunes.
Even if you tend to indulge in sugar-free sodas, carbonation raises the acidity of any drink.
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.
When tooth enamel starts eroding, you may experience one or more of the following:
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
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.
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.