Your teeth are comprised of three layers. The hard outer layer you see when you look in the mirror is your enamel, which protects the softer dentin and pulp underneath it. It is the hardest substance in your body; however, it isn’t indestructible. Unlike your bones or tissues, your enamel can’t regenerate itself. Once it is gone, it won’t grow back. As a result, you want to do everything you can to preserve it, but is it possible for tooth enamel to last forever? Yes! Here’s how you can ensure your teeth stay strong and healthy for a lifetime.
What Can Damage Enamel?
A study in the journal Nature Communications reports enamel consists of long, thin rods, which are hydroxyapatite crystals. They are about 50 nanometers wide and 10 micrometers long. After examining the enamel, researchers found the structure contains unique patterns that can change over time based on various factors.
Your enamel undergoes a lot of stress from biting and chewing. Not to mention, your mouth can be a hostile environment because it contains hundreds of species of bacteria that can harm your enamel. The biggest threat to your enamel is tooth decay. Cavities are caused by bacteria in your mouth from the foods and drinks you consume. When sugars and starches combine with your saliva, it creates an acidic plaque that can erode your enamel. Although they are preventable, 92% of adults have had at least one cavity in a permanent tooth. Any decay weakens the structure of your enamel.
Besides tooth decay, your enamel is also at risk of breaks and fractures, such as from injuries to the mouth, the pressure of grinding or clenching your teeth, or chewing on inedible objects. Thankfully, there are several things you can do to safeguard your enamel to ensure it thrives for decades.
Preserving Your Enamel
You can protect your enamel from unnecessary complications by following a few simple tips:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day for 2 minutes each session.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and nonabrasive toothpaste.
- Use high-quality floss to clean between your teeth.
- Limit your consumption of sugary foods and drinks.
- Treat bruxism with a nightguard.
- Wear an athletic mouthguard if you play sports.
- Avoid overly hard foods, like ice.
- Don’t chew on inedible objects, like your fingernails, pens, or pencils.
- Don’t use your teeth as tools to open packages.
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year for a cleaning and checkup.
- Drink fluoridated water for strong enamel.
Promote a Healthy Smile
You can ensure your smile serves you for a lifetime through a proactive approach. With a few simple changes, you can feel confident the building blocks of your teeth stay strong.
About Dr. Matthew McKissock
Dr. McKissock earned his dental degree from the University of Florida’s College of Dentistry. He is an award-winning dentist who has been featured in the Journal of the Academy of General Dentistry. He offers cutting-edge services to promote optimal oral health. If it’s time for your next cleaning and checkup, contact our office today for an appointment.