With people becoming more health-conscious our societal pressures regarding our smiles have increased. The health of your tooth enamel is directly associated with the color of your smile. But what if you are noticing a yellow tent to your teeth? Is it too dangerous to have your teeth whitened? We’ve outlined how to protect your enamel and address if teeth whitening is harmful.
Why Is Tooth Enamel Important?
You’ve probably heard of tooth enamel from your dentist, but why is it so important that you protect it? Enamel is the thin outer layer of the tooth covering the crown, which is visible from the gum. The tooth’s hard outer surface is the first defense against physical and chemical harm.
Fun fact: tooth enamel is the hardest tissue in the human body, it’s even tougher than bone!
The enamel’s job is to protect the softer and more sensitive inner tooth, called the dentin. As it is the main defense against substances, enamel is prone to breaking down. Bacteria exposure from sugar, starches, or acidic substances threatens your enamel. Your tooth’s enamel will also protect against the daily uses of your teeth including: chewing, biting, crunching, and grinding.
What To Do When Your Teeth’s Enamel Is Reduced?
Enamel is the toughest tissue, but it is not indestructible. Enamel doesn’t have any living cells and is unable to repair itself if it undergoes damage. In other words, unlike the rest of the human body that can repair itself, once the enamel is gone, it’s gone forever. To avoid tooth enamel loss, here are a few prevention methods to consider.
The easiest way to prevent enamel damage is to avoid sugary and acidic fruits and beverages. These types of foods are the most damaging substances to your enamel. When these foods stick to your teeth, it interacts with bacteria to produce a lactic acid that eats away at the healthy minerals.
This process will cause the enamel to break down. If you eat sugary food, try to avoid overly hard candies. Hard food such as warheads, lollipops, or ice can damage your enamel by causing cracks or chips. Try sucking on hard candies when you indulge in them instead of biting on them.
If you can’t give up sugary or acidic foods, the best solution is to thoroughly brush your teeth to push calcium and phosphates back into the tooth to harden the enamel. Here are the most common external factors that can cause enamel breakdown.
- Drinking excessive amounts of soft drinks
- Fruit drinks that contain high levels of acid
- Eating an excessive amount of starchy foods
- Eating excessive amounts of sugary foods
- Having excessive amounts of vitamin C
- Acid Reflux
- Dry mouth
In addition to external environmental factors, you can damage your tooth enamel by internal factors. Some of the most common causes of damaging tooth enamel are friction or wear and tear.
Friction most commonly occurs in your sleep when you clench or grind your teeth. The physical wear and tear of the tooth enamel happens when you brush your teeth too hard, improper flossing, or biting on hard objects.
Fun fact: The biggest defense against damaging your teeth enamel is your saliva. Saliva protects the enamel by coating the teeth in protective calcium. Your saliva also removes waste material from the mouth and creates substances to help fight mouth bacteria that can break down tooth enamel.
Signs Of Enamel Erosion
- Sensitivity to certain foods and temperature causes pain
- Yellow discoloration
- Teeth may become more rough, irregular, or jagged
- Indentions may appear on the surface of your teeth
Is Teeth Whitening Safe For My Enamel?
The yellow discoloration of your teeth is the most common sign of damaged enamel. This begs the question “does teeth whitening damage the enamel?” The answer is no, teeth whitening doesn’t damage your tooth enamel.
The main portion of the tooth, the dentin, is the portion of the tooth that’s responsible for your teeth’s color. The teeth are first coated with a whitening solution on the front surface of the tooth. The solution will then travel through the tooth enamel to the dentin. The stained tissue in the inner layer will begin to lighten. This process will take about an hour. Learn more about teeth whitening at Tower Dental.
Enamel Loss Treatment
The most common treatment for enamel loss is bonding. Bonding is when a tooth-colored material resin is applied to your damaged teeth. The resin will cover the yellow discoloration and protect your teeth. But if you have a severe case, our dentist may suggest you add a veneer or crown to prevent further decay.
Enamel Loss Prevention At Tower Dental Associates
The ultimate treatment method is preventing enamel loss from happening. Are you worried about enamel loss? At Tower Dental Associates, we can prevent tooth enamel loss. Schedule an appointment today to protect your smile!