The Value of Tooth Enamel
The tooth enamel is the only part of your teeth that you can see. It is white, resident to decay, and incredibly hard. In fact, it is the hardest substance in your body, harder then even your strongest bones. The enamel of your teeth is made up of 96% minerals, which contributes to its hardness and makes it such an effective tool for ripping and chewing food.
Enamel comes in a range of colors, from pearly white to tarnished yellow. In some areas of the tooth, it can even take on a slightly bluish tint. This is a result of the semitranslucent nature of the enamel, which allows the tissue underneath to show through slightly, particularly where the enamel is the thinnest. The thinnest sections of teeth enamel are where the teeth meet the gums, and the thickest layer is cusp, or chewing surface.
What’s Important About Enamel?
While your teeth are anatomically complex under the surface, the outer enamel is a particularly crucial part of the teeth structure. In addition to being the only visible part of the teeth, it is the section of your teeth most easily damaged by environmental exposure to acidic elements. Regardless of its toughness, tooth enamel must be protected carefully for the best long-term oral health.
Another important aspect of tooth anatomy is the absence of nerve endings in the tooth enamel. This allows your teeth to bite, chew and grind against each other ferociously when preparing your food for easy digestion. If this part of your teeth had nerves, it would make eating a much more delicate process. When you feel pain in your teeth, it is often a signal that there is damage to the enamel, with either a thin area or small hole allowing the more sensitive layers underneath to experience pain.
Protecting and Whitening Your Enamel
Protecting the outer defenses of your mouth requires proper oral hygiene. Unprotected teeth enamel is slowly worn away by acid contained in sweet and starchy foods. This acid weakens the enamel and continues to damage it over time. In addition, plaque build-up on the teeth may produce acids that eat away at the enamel of the tooth. Unfortunately, once enamel has been worn away, it cannot regrow itself and must be treated with dental intervention.
Healthy teeth are naturally whiter and cleaner. You may be able to provide natural whitening benefits and prevent discoloration through a simple program of proper oral hygiene. Consult with your dentist before using any commercial teeth whitening product, as these may cause damage or softening of the tooth enamel, causing long-term damage despite any short-term benefits. Other ways to keep your enamel healthy include:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Use a fluoride mouthwash rinse.
- Schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings.
- Floss regularly using traditional floss or disposable individual flossers.
- Ask your dentist about the use of porcelain veneers.
Porcelain Veneers: Grinding vs. No-Grinding
A recent press release from a British dental expert details the true value of minimally invasive porcelain veneers. Dental patients have the option of two types of veneers, one that requires the removal of a thin layer of tooth enamel and one type that are applied directly to the full tooth with no grinding.
Choosing a porcelain veneer for your teeth that requires no grinding helps to retain the crucial structure of your teeth, ensure their long life, and minimizes your discomfort during the veneer procedure. These contact lens-thin veneers provide additional protection and enhance the color of your teeth, prolonging their effectiveness and attractiveness.