Once Tooth Enamel is Lost, Can Your Dentist Replace It?
Posted: May 5, 2021
Last Modified: April 23, 2021
You’ve probably heard about tooth enamel at least once or twice in your life. You’ve heard that it’s important, that it’s strong, and that you have to protect it. But with all the advancements in dental services the past few decades, it’s hard to take the warnings seriously. After all, if you lose a tooth, you can just have a dental implant put in, so surely something similar exists for enamel…right?
Today, we’re going to take a deep dive into what your enamel is, how it can become damaged in the first place, and what your options are – if any – for restoring it to its former glory.
What is Tooth Enamel?
Think of enamel as your tooth’s first and best defence. Enamel is the outer layer of your tooth, and it’s also the strongest tissue in your body, stronger even than bone. With a mineral composition of 96%, tooth enamel is designed to protect the soft, sensitive inner tissues in your teeth. However, as you eat and drink throughout your life, your enamel can wear down, leaving the dentin and pulp underneath exposed to bacteria.
How is Tooth Enamel Destroyed?
If there was a superhero named Enamel, their archnemesis would be called Acid. When you eat or drink, your mouth produces saliva to help wash everything away. However, there are some foods that are so acidic that your saliva usually can’t keep up, especially if you eat them frequently. Some of the most common offenders are:
- Citrus fruits
- Fruit juice
- Potato chips
Over time, the acid from these foods wears down your enamel. You might also lose enamel due to chronic acid reflux. If you’re visiting your Barrie dental office regularly, your dentist will be able to catch this erosion early, but if left unchecked for too long, your enamel could be worn down to only a thin layer – or worse, worn away completely.
Attrition refers to when your tooth enamel gets worn down from tooth-to-tooth wear. One common example of this is grinding your teeth at night, but attrition can happen just from eating and talking, too. If you have TMJ (temporomandibular joints, or jaw joints) pain, there’s a good chance that some attrition has been taking place, too, and that could mean your enamel has been worn down.
Abrasion happens when something rubs against a tooth that is not another tooth. This can happen from chewing non-food items as a habit (like gnawing on a pencil) or from using oral hygiene products that are too harsh or improperly designed for enamel preservation. If ever in doubt as to what you should be using on your teeth, your dentist will likely have some good recommendations they can provide.
Can a Dentist Office Replace Lost Enamel?
Tooth enamel is a very unique tissue, so once it’s gone, there’s no way to get it back. In our office, we now have scanning technology that can detect small changes in loss of enamel, giving you early warning that loss of enamel from wearing down of teeth or acid erosion is happening. This is something that we could not do just a few years ago. And if you do have some enamel left, there are ways to help strengthen it.
Toothpaste that contains fluoride will help remineralize your enamel (although you’ll likely want to check with your dentist that the toothpaste you’re using is professionally recognized to help strengthen enamel), and brushing and flossing every day does a lot to keep plaque off your teeth and prevent acids from doing extra damage. Do your best to avoid foods that are bad for your teeth, and if you really can’t say no to soda, drink it through a straw so the liquid bypasses your teeth as much as possible.
If you have cavities or worn areas in your teeth where the enamel is weak, your dentist will be able to provide specialized treatment in these areas and provide additional guidance on how to protect the enamel you have left.
How Can I Find a Dental Office?
Barrie is home to Dr. Elston Wong Dentistry, where you’ll find everything from preventive care to orthodontic and restorative dentistry. We take pride in our complete commitment to the health and comfort of our clients, and when you choose us to be your local dentist office, you can be confident that you’ve chosen the dentist who will go the extra mile for your oral care.
If you’d like to learn more about the services we provide in our dental office in Barrie, give us a call at (705) 721-1143 or send us a message online.