There’s been a lot of talk lately about tooth enamel. What is it? How important is it? How can you protect the enamel on your teeth? At Horner Barrow Orthodontics, we want you to have all of the knowledge you need to properly care for your teeth, before, during and after orthodontic treatment in our Sioux Falls, SD office. So here are the answers to all of your enamel questions.
The enamel on your teeth is the hardest and the most highly-mineralized substance in your body. Enamel covers the outer layer of each tooth, and it is the most visible part of the tooth. The color of the enamel can vary from light yellow to grayish white. Because tooth enamel is semi-translucent, it is only partially responsible for the color of your teeth. Enamel is made up mostly of minerals, primarily hydroxyapatite. Hydroxyapatite, also called hydroxyapatite (HA), is a naturally-occurring mineral form of calcium apatite. It is a major component, and an essential ingredient of normal bone and teeth. Hydroxyapatite makes up bone mineral and the matrix of teeth. It is what gives bones and teeth their rigidity.
Enamel plays a very important role in protecting your teeth from decay, so it’s important to do everything you can to prevent your enamel from eroding. It forms a strong barrier that protects the inner layers of your teeth from the effects of acids and plaque. It also protects the sensitive inner layers of your teeth from very hot or very cold foods and beverages.
If your enamel is destroyed, your body will not make more to repair or replenish it. Unlike other parts of your body (your bones, for example), enamel does not contain any living cells, so it cannot regenerate.
You can protect your tooth enamel while wearing braces, and after your braces are removed, by avoiding foods that are known to cause the most damage. Sugary foods and acidic fruits and beverages (especially those popular energy and sports drinks) are among the most damaging to your tooth enamel. When those substances stick to your teeth and interact with the bacteria present in your mouth, lactic acid is produced, which can damage your enamel. Avoid these foods when you can, and if you do consume them, remember to brush thoroughly afterward. If you are not able to brush afterward, be sure to thoroughly rinse your mouth with water.
Extremely hard or crunchy foods, such as hard candy or ice cubes, can also damage your enamel by causing it to crack or chip, so these foods should also be avoided. If you do have a piece of hard candy, suck on it but don’t bite down on it.
You can also protect your enamel by practicing good oral hygiene habits, like regular brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing, and visiting your dental professional for regular professional cleanings.
Enamel is an important substance that deserves to be taken care of and protected as part of good oral hygiene, whether or not you are wearing braces.
At Horner Barrow Orthodontics, we are committed to delivering excellent quality orthodontic treatment to each and every patient. To provide a friendly, caring, and pleasant atmosphere that will ensure our patients feel relaxed and confident about placing their orthodontic care in our hands.