This first line of defence for our teeth should be looked after as well as possible
As some patients will already know from reading previous blogs, there are three essential parts of a tooth. The enamel, the dentin layer and the pulp which is stored in the body of the tooth and root canals.
Toothache, whether relatively mild or severe can occur when either the dentin layer or the root canals become infected with bacteria.
As these areas are vulnerable to bacteria if left unprotected, our teeth have a first defensive layer which is made of enamel. This is a very strong material that also allows us to chew even harder foods without harming our teeth when doing so. Although strong, enamel is not invulnerable and, if we don’t take good care of it, it can become compromised and eventually lead to tooth decay.
What damages the enamel on our teeth?
There are a few things that can harm the enamel on our teeth. Instant damage in the form of a break or a crack will compromise it and allow bacteria to enter. This often happens in the form of an accident and there is often little that we can do to prevent it other than wear a mouth guard when playing sport etc. Even the smallest chip or crack should be examined by our Greenwich dentist in order for it to be treated as necessary, before the problem becomes worse.
Others ways in which the enamel of our teeth can be harmed are through bacteria and acid damage.
Bacteria will always collect on and around our teeth. In fact, our mouth is full of millions of bacteria and whilst some are not harmful or are even beneficial, not all of them are. Some bacteria will attack the enamel leading to damage if not managed properly. This can be done with good brushing at home and the addition of flossing to your dental routine if you don’t already do so. You should also take advantage of the hygienist services at the Confidental Clinic and have your teeth and gums professionally cleaned with a scale and polish procedure. This will help to rid your teeth of the bacteria, plaque and tartar that home brushing does not.
The other main way in which enamel is damaged is through acidic food and drinks. These include both healthy foods such as citric fruits and less healthy options such as sports drinks or even regular sugary fizzy drinks. Although it is best if you avoid these altogether and opt for sugar free versions where available, if you must drink them, try to do so through a straw to minimise contact with your teeth.
Treatment for damaged enamel
Although prevention is the best option, any damage incurred on the enamel should be treated as soon as possible. Failure to do so is likely to lead to the problem advancing and may well result in the need for a root canal procedure or even extraction of the tooth. There are a number of ways in which a tooth can be restored in this situation and it will depend on each individual case. Where the damage is very small, and possibly largely cosmetic, dental bonding may be used to repair it. For more significant problems such as decay, a filing may be necessary, whether an amalgam or white one. For bad breakages a crown may be required.
Where damage has occurred through acidity or over-zealous brushing and has caused the enamel to erode on the tooth surface, it may be possible to restore this using porcelain or composite dental veneers.
Make sure that you have healthy teeth enamel by seeing your dentist on a regular basis. Treatments and advice are available at the Confidental Clinic which will give you the best chance to avoid tooth decay and similar problems. If you are not registered with a dentist and live in Greenwich, or the wider South East London area, please call us on 020 8858 1422.