Tooth enamel is your teeth’s first layer of protection. It protects your teeth from sensitivity, tooth decay and bacterial infections.
To keep your enamel healthy, follow your dentist’s advice for daily oral care. Brush with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day and floss. Eat foods and beverages that are high in calcium and phosphorus, such as meats, eggs, beans, dairy products and nuts.
Tooth enamel is a sturdy protector of our teeth that helps keep them safe from bacteria, hard substances, and the hot or cold temperatures that can cause pain. When tooth enamel erodes, our teeth are more vulnerable to cavities, root canals and other serious dental problems. Enamel erosion occurs when the protective layers of a tooth are worn down by acidic foods or drinks, harsh brushing, dry mouth, or bruxism (grinding your teeth).
Although damaged tooth enamel cannot regrow itself, there are several approaches that can help strengthen and protect weakened or discolored enamel. These include consuming non-acidic foods, drinking water and chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production, and using fluoride toothpaste.
Another important step to take is to wait an hour before brushing your teeth after consuming acidic food and drink, as this will allow the natural remineralization of enamel. For severe eroded enamel, dentists may recommend treatments such as dental bonding, porcelain veneers or crowns. These solutions can repair cracked, chipped or discolored teeth and close minor gaps between teeth. They can also protect the inside of the tooth from infection, and in some cases prevent decay or even a root canal.
Fluoride has become one of the most popular methods for reversing tooth decay and strengthening enamel. It is found naturally in most community water sources, toothpaste and some foods. Visiting the dentist on a regular basis, along with following good oral hygiene practices, maximizes its effectiveness in keeping teeth healthy and strong.
Tooth decay is caused by bacteria that digest and ferment sugars and other foods. The bacteria produce acids that erode the outer layer of your teeth, known as your enamel. The acid slowly eats away at the softer dentin underneath, creating holes, or cavities. Fluoride protects your teeth from damage by inhibiting the growth of bacteria and promoting remineralization, or rebuilding the enamel.
Although Fluorine is a natural element, it must be ingested in order to be beneficial. It occurs naturally in air, soil, plants, rocks, fresh water and some foods. However, the form of fluoride that is added to toothpaste and mouthwashes is synthesized in a laboratory because it is easier to control its chemical compounds. It is also more stable than raw fluorine.
Dental sealants are plastic resins that fill the small grooves and depressions on the chewing surfaces of back teeth (molars and pre-molars). These nooks and crannies are difficult for toothbrushes to reach, so food debris and bacteria can accumulate, leading to decay. The tooth enamel repair provided by sealants is like a boost to your daily oral hygiene routine, protecting the surface of your teeth from germs and decay.
Sealants are typically placed on children’s teeth as soon as their permanent molars and pre-molars come in, but adults who are at high risk of developing cavities can also benefit from this preventative treatment. The process is quick, easy, and painless.
First, the dentist will clean and dry your teeth before applying an acidic gel to the tooth’s surface. This will slightly roughen the tooth’s surface, allowing the sealant to bond with the tooth. After the tooth is prepared, the dentist will apply the liquid sealant to the chewing surfaces of your teeth and use a blue light to harden it. The sealant will protect your teeth for years, but it is not indestructible and will need to be replaced periodically.
Veneers are a cosmetic dental solution that can address heavy tooth wear, uneven teeth, gaps, and more. The process involves a consultation visit to discuss your goals and desired result. Your dentist will take X-rays and impressions of your teeth to send to a lab. After your veneers are fabricated, you’ll return for a second appointment to have them bonded to your teeth.
Unlike traditional veneers that require grinding down the surface of your natural tooth, no-prep veneers sculpt resin-based composite directly on your teeth. This means no enamel is removed, making the procedure more conservative and reversible.
You’ll want to care for your new smile just as you would with natural teeth, though. You’ll need to brush and floss regularly and avoid excessive acidic foods or drinks that can stain teeth. You may also need to wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports or use a splint at night if you grind your teeth. Veneers can also become stained, so you’ll need to limit red wine and coffee consumption. If you’re noticing rough patches on your veneers, these can be smoothed with a polishing treatment.
A dental crown, or cap, replaces a tooth’s enamel and protects it from additional damage. They are used to repair teeth that have a chipped end, or to fill in spaces left by missing teeth. Dental crowns can also be used to cover a discolored or misshapen tooth for cosmetic reasons.
A dentist can make a crown out of metal, porcelain fused to metal, resin, or ceramic. The best option for a patient depends on the condition of the tooth. For example, a tooth that has a small chip may be repaired with bonding which involves applying a resin to the tooth and then shaping it to look like a natural tooth. However, a dental crown made with resin is less durable and can easily chip.
A dental crown can cost anywhere from $500 to $1300. The price will vary depending on where you get your dental work done. A reputable dental health maintenance organization (DHMO) will have dentists in their network that can provide the restoration at a much lower cost. A dental discount plan can also help reduce the costs of restorative treatments.