Your tooth enamel may not be something that you think about very often, if ever. But we endodontists do. We think about everything to do with teeth. What exactly is tooth enamel? Well, it is a pretty amazing substance. It is the hard outer surface layer that covers your teeth and the hardest element of your body. (Tooth enamel is stronger than bone).
So it is kind of ironic that it can be so susceptible to other elements. Yet as tough as tooth enamel is, it can be eroded by foods and beverages that we consume every day. Things that are acidic or sweet, things that contain starch—these go into the enamel of your teeth, causing decay. Food and drink that we put in our mouths causes plaque, and plaque contains bacteria…and this bacteria creates acid that weakens enamel. And once enamel is gone, there is no getting it back.
Did you know that enamel loss is becoming more common? Many experts believe this is due to our modern day diet. So what can you do to protect your enamel and your teeth? Obviously using a fluoride toothpaste protects your teeth from plaque and acid. In addition, you should avoid anything that rubs against your teeth because this can wear down your enamel. This means all you pen biters and toothpick chewers need to stop that habit.
There are special toothpastes, rinses and other products that can promote the building of enamel. Ask your dentist about sodium fluoride and which products he or she recommends. This one is obvious—but brush your teeth regularly. At least twice a day. This means that you are not giving plaque a chance to form on your teeth and so your tooth enamel will not be compromised as much.
As an endodontist, we see a lot of tooth decay. Neglected decay leads to cavities and sometimes just filling the tooth will not resolve the issue. When decay extends up into the root of the tooth, it is not only a painful situation but it must be corrected. This usually means a root canal. The good news is that new technology and methods practiced by dentists and endodontists has taken the pain out of root canals. They are now a routine procedure that is only mildly uncomfortable.
Protect your teeth, avoid too many acidic and sweet foods, and your teeth will last, as will your smile. : )