The enamel on your teeth is the hardest substance in your entire body, according to the American Dental Association. At 96 percent minerals, tooth enamel is also the most mineralized substance in the body. These minerals, which include phosphate and calcium, make tooth enamel durable and resistant to damage.
As you age though, the levels of minerals in your teeth and mouth can naturally decrease. This process, known as demineralization, can weaken your tooth enamel and even lead to tooth decay. Demineralization and tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities, can also occur when bacteria and sugar in your mouth create acids that eat away at your tooth enamel.
Other factors, such as eating very hard foods, can crack, chip or otherwise damage your tooth enamel. This is especially true if you have weakened tooth enamel.
Unfortunately, once you have lost your tooth enamel, you cannot get it back. Unlike your bones or other parts of your body, enamel cannot regenerate itself because it does not contain any living cells.
Your body tries to counter the effects of demineralization by replenishing the mouth’s supply of minerals, a process known as remineralization. Saliva plays a major role in remineralization. Produced by salivary glands in your mouth, saliva contains phosphate, calcium and other minerals that naturally strengthen your teeth and cleanse your mouth of common germs. Saliva also makes your mouth a less acidic environment.
Left untreated, demineralization can weaken your tooth enamel and leave you vulnerable to tooth decay. Fortunately, it is possible to strengthen your tooth enamel before tooth decay occurs.
Strengthen Your Tooth Enamel in 6 Easy Steps
1. Learn the signs and symptoms of weakened tooth enamel
Signs and symptoms of weakened tooth enamel include:
Yellow teeth – Healthy tooth enamel is actually translucent, which means it is semi-transparent. Demineralization wears away the translucent enamel layer to expose the underlying layer of dentin, which is white, grey, yellow or off-white. As a result, your teeth start to look more yellow.
Sensitivity – Weakened tooth enamel may cause increased tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods, as the loss of enamel exposes dentin.
Roughness – Early stages of tooth enamel loss can cause roughness, particularly around the edges of your teeth.
2. Brush Your Teeth
Brushing your teeth regularly can help remove the bacteria that lead to demineralization and tooth decay.
3. Use fluoride toothpaste
Using fluoride toothpaste can boost the enamel-saving benefits of brushing. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that makes enamel more resistant to acid. The mineral can also reverse early decay and rev up the speed at which tooth enamel reabsorbs minerals.
4. Cut Out Sugar
Cavity-causing bacteria feed on sugars left in your mouth from sugary foods and drinks. Cutting out sugar can help starve out harmful bacteria. Research shows that the frequency at which you consume sugar matters more than the amount of sugar you eat.
5. Chew sugarless gum
Chewing gum stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, which helps rinse away acid to regulate pH levels. Avoid chewing gum with sugar, of course, as it can actually increase your risk of cavities.
6. Watch what you eat
Healthy foods equal healthy teeth. Some foods provide special enamel-building benefits:
Eat more calcium-rich foods
Calcium helps keep tooth enamel strong. Calcium-rich foods include cheese, yogurt, sardines and salmon, seeds, beans and lentils, almonds, and whey protein.
Get more vitamin D
Eat salmon, milk, orange juice, mushrooms and other foods containing Vitamin D, as this important vitamin works with calcium to strengthen tooth enamel. Take Vitamin D supplements as needed.
Drink more water
Water helps rinse away bacteria, and helps reduce acid and sugars in the mouth. Community water supplies and some types of bottled water also contain fluoride that helps remineralize your tooth enamel.
See your dentist regularly
Check-ups with your dentist are critical for maintaining strong tooth enamel. Your dentist can spot early signs of weakened tooth enamel and tooth decay, provide tips on strengthening your enamel, and help you reduce your risk for developing cavities. Schedule a consultation with Triangle Dentistry today.
Triangle Dentistry, located in Raleigh, NC, provides a state-of-the-art facility that offers exceptional general dental and specialty services guided by empathy of a patient’s needs and desires. Services range from dental crowns to veneers and whitening procedures. For further information, questions, or to schedule an appointment, contact the office at (919) 747-3608.