You may have a friend who spends a few too many hours pumping iron. Go ahead and ask him what is the hardest tissue on the human body. He could flex a bit while he’s considering your question, but he’ll never get the answer.
It’s the enamel on your teeth.
Tooth enamel consists mainly of minerals, primarily hydroxyapatite. It covers the crown, the part of the tooth that’s visible above the gumline. It is translucent, so you can see right through your enamel to the main portion of the tooth, the dentin, beneath it. The dentin is where your tooth color is dictated, whether it be white, off-white, grey, or yellow.
Stains on your teeth from food and drink accumulate on the enamel, not in the dentin. Regular visits to Implant Dentistry of Florida for your twice-yearly prophylaxis clean and polish most of those stains away. Tooth whitening also removes these stains from the enamel.
The job of the enamel
Enamel plays the role of a bodyguard of the teeth during their regular use. Things such as chewing, biting, crunching, and grinding feature lots of force and your enamel keeps that force from damaging the interior of the tooth. The enamel also insulates the teeth from potential painful temperatures and chemicals.
Enamel is one tough customer, standing up to all of the above, but it can be damaged. It can crack or chip, but unlike bone cells, enamel has no living cells so once it is damaged the body cannot repair it. You may hear some misleading claims in commercials for oral hygiene products that they can restore your enamel but this is not true —once enamel is gone, it’s gone for good.
Erosion, the long-term enemy of enamel
Because enamel doesn’t rebuild, it’s wise to avoid the foods and beverages that cause enamel erosion. Although your tooth enamel is tough, like the hardest rock it can be eroded over time. Acids are the usual culprits. Here’s a list of enamel eroders:
Fruit drinks (fruits have various acids, some very erosive)
Excessive soft drink consumption (high levels of phosphoric and citric acids)
Too much sugar and starch in the diet
Acid reflux disease
Medications like aspirin and antihistamines
Will I know when enamel has eroded?
Enamel erosion doesn’t happen overnight. There will be clues, but you have to be in tune with them to either stop your behaviors or change your diet. Sensitivity to sweets and temperatures can cause twinges of pain in the early stages of erosion. As it progresses, your teeth become discolored as more of the dentin is exposed. As enamel erodes the edges of your teeth can become rough and irregular. Severe sensitivity will come in the late stages. Also, cupping, otherwise known as indentations in the teeth show enamel loss.
Take care of your enamel and it will take care of your teeth. But, if your enamel has eroded, procedures such as dental bonding can cover damaged areas. Call the team at Implant Dentistry of Florida at (321) 372-7700 if you’re noticing any symptoms of enamel erosion.