The enamel is the outermost protective layer of the tooth. If we don’t protect it, it cannot protect our teeth. Although it is barely a few millimeters thick, enamel is the hardest substance of the body.
But sadly, once it is lost, it cannot be regenerated. That is why it is so important to care for our enamel. If the enamel is damaged, slowly we are going to develop more severe dental problems.
There are several ways to strengthen enamel such as diet modifications, avoiding sugar, brushing right, getting rid of bruxism, etc.
Causes of enamel destruction
It is best to take measures to prevent enamel degeneration, and that is possible only if we avoid the factors that damage it. Here are some causes of enamel weakening.
Genetic and Systemic Illnesses
In some babies, enamel weakening may be an in-utero process. This means that they are born with weak tooth enamel, which often happens due to a nutritional deficiency in the mother, or her dietary habits. One should also watch out for weak bones for this child.
In systemic diseases like Celiac disease too, patients suffer from weak enamel. The disease primarily affects the intestine but can have secondary implications on the teeth too. (1)
There are some body illnesses which cause you to have a dry mouth, like Diabetes. Xerostomia is one factor that contributes to enamel loss. Decreased salivation because of other medical conditions leads to weakening of the enamel.
Our food intake plays a crucial role in the formation and strengthening of our body tissues. Consuming excessive acid or acidic foods can cause demineralization of the enamel.
These include sugary sweets, candy, soda, etc. Conversely, having a balanced diet which includes food from all groups, in an optimum quantity can be beneficial for your enamel.
We probably don’t lay enough emphasis on correct brushing, but the way you brush can make or break your enamel. Disciplined brushing twice a day, supplemented with flossing and rinsing your mouth can go a long way in strengthening enamel.
On the other hand, if you don’t brush properly, acidic agents will accumulate on your teeth and destroy the enamel. If you clean with a strong abrasive action, the enamel will wear off.
Some medicines which have an acidic nature will affect your tooth enamel. Commonly used medications are aspirin and anti-histamines which can contribute to demineralization of enamel in small quantities.
The habit of night grinding exerts undue pressure on the brittle enamel and causes cracks in it. If it continues for long periods or you apply excessive force, the enamel layer will eventually weaken and break off.
Methods to strengthen weak enamel
Watch your diet
What you put in your mouth and what you avoid influences the enamel strength in significant ways. Not just the quality of what you consume, but even the quantity is important.
The key is not to overdo sweet and acidic foods and to eat a good amount of calcium-rich foods.
What is right for your enamel?
Calcium is one of the most crucial minerals for enamel strengthening. Apart from dairy products, you can get calcium from leafy vegetables, almonds, and even beans.
Vitamins, particularly Vitamin A and Vitamin D have a positive impact on your enamel health. Just like natural Vitamin D from the Sun is good for your bones, it is good for your enamel too.
Foods that have this vitamin are cereals and dairy products. You can get a good amount of Vitamin A from carrots, sweet potatoes, eggs, fish oil, etc.
Phosphorus which is present in meat, eggs, fish, and poultry is a natural strength building agent for the enamel.
It is vital that you consume a balanced meal. This gives the same benefits to your enamel as it does to your bones- it helps to strengthen and protect it.
What is bad for your enamel?
Whatever is bad for your teeth is primarily so because it harms your enamel. Sugary snacks and acidic beverages accelerate the demineralization process. (2)
This means that calcium and other vital minerals are taken away from the enamel. This begins the weakening process, which eventually affects the inner layers of your teeth.
Snacking in between meals is also responsible for increased acid production in the mouth. This in turn adversely affects your enamel. Try to reduce the frequency of eating snacks between meals gradually.
Nothing can substitute tooth brushing. Cleaning your teeth to remove leftover food and plaque is essential to maintain the enamel health.
Abrasion is another factor you need to take care of while brushing. Brushing too hard with high pressure will cause the enamel to wear off, eventually destroying it.
Meticulous brushing for two minutes, twice a day while covering all surfaces of all teeth is advised for healthy teeth.
Treat the systemic problems
Acid reflux through GERD causes erosion of the enamel. You should visit your physician to treat this problem through medicines or diet modifications.
Stop Grinding your teeth
If you have bruxism, visit your dentist for a night guard and to get rid of other problems that may be causing you to grind your teeth. Bruxism can also show links to stress, so having control of that can help you improve your overall health as well.
To aesthetically enhance the look of a tooth after demineralization, dental procedures can be of help. The dentist will assess the extent of enamel damage and recommend a procedure for you.
He will either place dental veneers over the front teeth, or crowns. Sometimes, a composite restoration could suffice too. Other methods that help are bleaching, and laminates, to hide the discoloration. (4)
Although there is no concrete way to reverse enamel destruction, these are some ways to minimize or prevent it. Remember to watch what you eat, brush thoroughly and regularly visit your dentist for a check-up.
The key to a perfect smile lies in having a solid foundation in your teeth, which begins with protecting your enamel.