Don’t Paint Your Patio Furniture with This Enamel!
What is the hardest tissue in the human body?
If you’re down around some muscleheads at the Jersey Shore, you probably can guess what they’d say as they flex for you. But they’d be pumped up…and wrong.
Your tooth enamel is the hardest tissue on your body. And no, you would never have gotten that one right on Jeopardy!
Comprised for the most part of minerals, primarily hydroxyapatite, tooth enamel 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. Whether your teeth are white, off white, grey, of yellow, the dentin is where your tooth color is dictated.
Stains on your teeth from food and drink accumulate on the enamel, not in the dentin. Regular visits to the team at Kalil & Kress for your twice-yearly prophylaxis (fancy word for professional cleaning!) clean and polish most of those stains away. Tooth whitening also removes these stains from the enamel.
Like the Secret Service, without the earpieces
Like the Secret Service, your enamel’s job is protection. Enamel protects your teeth during daily use. You don’t realize it, but things such as chewing, biting, crunching, and grinding create 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.
Although it is strong like an ox, your enamel can still 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. People think you can restore your enamel — some dental products even claim this — but you cannot. Once enamel is gone, it’s gone for good. Kind of like your youth!
Leave the erosion to the Grand Canyon
When you consider the fact that your enamel can’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. Just ask the Grand Canyon! Acids are the usual culprits. Here’s a list of enamel eroders:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Excessive soft drink consumption (high levels of phosphoric and citric acids)
- Fruit drinks (fruits have various acids, some very erosive)
- Too much sugar and starch in the diet
- Medications like aspirin and antihistamines
- Acid reflux disease
- Environmental factors (see below)
Environmental surface erosion
While you can watch what you eat or drink, stopping what is called “environmental erosion” isn’t as easy. Friction, stress, general wear and tear, and corrosion can all combine to grind off the enamel from your teeth.
Abfraction —This is basically a stress fracture of the tooth caused by flexing or bending of the tooth.
Abrasion — This is the wear from when you brush too hard, bite hard objects such as fingernails and pens, or chew tobacco.
Attrition — This tooth-to-tooth friction is called attrition. If you’re a night grinder, this is what you’re doing to your teeth.
Corrosion — This is the name for acidic contents hitting the enamel. Frequent corrosion takes off enamel.
Will I know when enamel has eroded?
Unlike a crack or chip to your tooth, enamel erosion doesn’t happen quickly. 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.
It’s in your best interest to take care of the enamel that’s taking care of your teeth. If you have lost some enamel, the pros at Kalil & Kress can bond over it to protect the tooth. Call us at 603-880-7004 to schedule your next appointment.