Protecting your smile for the long-term can seem like a daunting task, but our Elmhurst dentists have found that when our patients are well-informed about the ins and outs of dentistry, they are able to confidently make sound dental decisions. So, today, we’re starting at the beginning, and giving you some more information about one of the core components of your smile. Let’s talk about dental enamel!
Take a look at your smile; the white and shiny tooth that you see every day, that’s your dental enamel. Under your dental enamel lie additional tooth layers—the dentin and dental pulp—but your enamel is the visible portion of your smile.
As enamel is the outermost layer of your tooth, it is tasked with protecting the more vulnerable inner layers. Enamel is naturally pretty resilient and non-porous. And, because it does not contain dental nerves, it allows patients to comfortably chew, speak, etc.
However, just because dental enamel is strong doesn’t mean it’s indestructible. Certain habits and substances can weaken enamel, and leave the entire tooth at risk of developing damage. Acidic substances, for example—citrus fruits, juices, coffee, tea, soft drinks—soften enamel and cause it to wear away faster. Additionally, conditions like bruxism (chronic dental grinding) can create small spots of vulnerability on the tooth.
Once dental enamel is compromised, the inner layers of your tooth become more exposed and thus at risk. Thinning enamel is one reason that patients suffer from dental sensitivity, for example, because open spots in the enamel allow the inner-tooth’s nerves become irritated.
There are simple steps that you can take to help preserve your healthy enamel.
- Limit your consumption of acidic substances
- Rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking, especially things that have acid or sugar
- Seek prompt treatment for bruxism
- Talk to your dentist about whether dental sealants may be appropriate for your smile
- Use an appropriate toothbrush for your teeth—for many patients medium and firm-bristled brushes may actually be too abrasive
Give our Elmhurst dentists a call to learn more about dental enamel, to get tips on how to maintain a healthy smile for years to come. We look forward to speaking with you!