Can Tooth Enamel Be Restored?
Did you know enamel is the hardest substance in your body? The shiny, white surface of your teeth is mostly made of minerals, making it stronger than bone. Still, tooth enamel becomes vulnerable when exposed to a diet full of sugary foods and beverages. If the enamel erodes, is there any way to repair it?
Enamel erosion occurs when acids wear away the hard, outer layer of your teeth. Your saliva works to neutralise any acids in your mouth, but specific diets, oral hygiene habits, and medical conditions can make it hard for your saliva to keep up. The foods and beverages you consume tend to be the main culprit of this acid production. These include:
- Sugary foods (like candy or fruit juice)
- Starchy foods (like bread or potatoes)
- Acidic foods (like soda or citrus fruits)
A diet high in these foods combined with poor oral hygiene can put your enamel at risk. Other causes for tooth erosion include:
- Teeth grinding or bruxism
- Chronic acid reflux
- Low salivary flow or xerostomia
- Medications (like aspirin)
- Eating disorders (like bulimia)
Because enamel plays an essential role in protecting the inner, living parts of your teeth, erosion can lead to cavities, sensitivity, and infection. Eroded teeth often appear discoloured, cracked, chipped, or indented. They also become sensitive to tastes and temperatures.
Tooth enamel loses minerals, weakens, and breaks down in stages. Your body cannot make new enamel; however, you can strengthen and repair existing enamel. This happens through a process called remineralisation, which naturally occurs when essential minerals like fluoride, calcium, and phosphate reunite with your enamel. You can assist the remineralisation process by:
- Brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day.
- Cleaning between your teeth daily with floss or an interdental device.
- Avoid sugary, starchy, and acidic foods.
- Drinking plenty of water and chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production.
- Talk to your dental professional about any conditions or medications that might contribute to enamel erosion.
Cavities can form as a result of enamel losing its minerals because the dentin is exposed and unprotected. Applying remineralisation treatments at this stage will not restore the enamel. At this point, a dental professional can only repair a cavity by filling it. Other professional options for repairing tooth enamel include:
- Bonding: More acute or advanced issues may prompt your dental professional to recommend repairing your enamel with dental bonding, which uses a tooth-coloured resin that can be applied to your tooth to protect a weakened area.
- Veneers: Your dentist may also suggest veneers if only the front surfaces of your enamel are damaged. Veneers are thin pieces of tooth-coloured porcelain that are permanently cemented to the surfaces of your teeth that face outward.
- If you have a cavity in your tooth, your dentist will clean the decayed tooth and then fill the tooth with a filling material. Because these caps cover the teeth completely, a dental professional may recommend crowns if they are severely misshapen or discoloured due to enamel damage.
Your enamel takes a daily beating from the foods you eat. Implement some preventive measures by adjusting your diet and instilling a proper oral hygiene routine. With the right care and products, you can ensure your smile stays strong and healthy.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.