He’s ultra-tough. It’s super firm. But when acids attack him, the tooth enamel is destroyed. Tooth enamel degradation goes unnoticed for a long time, but it can have serious consequences. We have researched which foods attack tooth enamel particularly strongly, how you can recognize tooth enamel degradation and how building enamel is put up.
Why building enamel is so important?
The enamel-like tooth enamel ( enamel, substantial adamantine ) is the hardest substance in the human body. It mainly consists of hydroxyapatite (hydroxylated calcium phosphate salt) arranged like a prism, fluoride, and organic cement substance in between. It covers every single tooth crown (part of a tooth that protrudes from the gums) like an enormously resistant protective coat that defies almost all mechanical loads. Tooth enamel protects your teeth from damaging external influences such as extreme temperatures.
Attention! If the enamel decreases or even disappears in some places, you have a problem. Because tooth enamel does not form by itself. But it is possible to protect and strengthen your tooth enamel. And with us, you can find out how to do it.
Why doesn’t tooth enamel grow back?
Unlike our skin, which repairs itself after injuries and forms new cells that gradually close the wound, tooth enamel cannot replicate itself. This is because it is made of inorganic materials rather than living cells and blood vessels. What’s gone is gone. Your only chance is to stop the enamel from breaking down.
Why do you lose tooth enamel?
The tooth enamel may for the most part be able to withstand mechanical loads, but not acids such as those produced by caries bacteria. Especially if they act on it over a longer period of time, they are able to etch it and soften it by releasing minerals. An excess of acid in the oral cavity, which normally has a neutral pH value thanks to the saliva, can also occur with reflux disease (= heartburn ) or frequent vomiting (eg with bulimia ). And of course after consuming acidic food or drinks (e.g. fruit, fruit juices, soft and energy drinks, alcohol).
What promotes the breakdown of tooth enamel?
- High-sugar diet (especially enjoyment of soft drinks, energy drinks & Co.)
- Insufficient salivation, i.e. dry mouth
- Upper digestive tract disorders
- Medicines such as antihistamines or certain antidepressants
- Technical overload, e.g. from grinding teeth (bruxism), brisk brushing, hard
- Toothbrushes, or strongly abrasive toothpaste
- Poor or excessive oral hygiene
Normal enamel degradation vs. tooth enamel defect
It is normal for tooth enamel to decrease over the years. In healthy people, the rate at which it decreases depends largely on their diet and dental care. But there are also diseases and developmental disorders that are associated with tooth enamel abnormalities. Such is the case, for example, in the case of molar incisor hypomineralization ( MIH). Here the body stores too few minerals, which makes the tooth enamel porous.
In amelogenesis imperfecta (also called congenital enamel hypoplasia), the formation of enamel is disrupted. The disorder is due to a malfunction of the proteins in tooth enamel that normally control the composition of minerals. Diseases that disrupt the calcium balance (e.g. celiac disease) can also have a negative effect on tooth enamel.
Detecting enamel degradation
Tooth enamel is constantly in two opposing processes, demineralization ( loss of minerals, “decalcification” by acids) and remineralization (re-storage of minerals by the saliva). If demineralization gets out of hand or if there is no adequate remineralization, symptoms such as
- Grooves, indentations, or discoloration
- Chips, cracks, or carious spots
- Thinned incisal edges and flattened chewing surfaces
- A darker color because the dentin (dentin) shows through the damaged tooth enamel
- A sensitivity to pain and temperature when enamel defects reach down to the dentin because, in contrast to tooth enamel, this has nerve fibers (which conduct pain stimuli).
At the latest when holes have developed in the teeth, you realize how important an intact tooth enamel is. So it only seems natural that one wants to restore it, that is, to rebuild the valuable protective covering of the teeth.
Building up tooth enamel? Strengthen tooth enamel!
The Building enamel begins when the teeth are still in the jawbone and is complete after they have broken through into the oral cavity. It takes place through cells called ameloblasts, also called adamantoblasts, which perish after they have performed their task. If the finished enamel is damaged, the organism can not reproduce new tooth enamel.
Also, contrary to advertising promises to the contrary, it is not (yet?) Possible to clean tooth enamel defects, for example by using toothpaste with enamel-like ingredients (e.g. zinc carbonate hydroxylapatite) applied to the tooth surface, ie to repair them scientifically proven. This is the conclusion of a toothpaste check by Stiftung Warentest.
Currently, the only option is to rehabilitate enamel defects through dental measures such as fillings and to strengthen existing tooth enamel. You can strengthen your tooth enamel by promoting its mineralization and trying to stabilize the demineralization.
Tooth enamel loss – what to do?
Acids and mechanical overuse are the two main culprits in destroying tooth enamel. It is therefore advisable to stop or prevent any tooth enamel degradation.
- After eating, rinse your mouth with water to dilute acids and chew sugar-free chewing gum (dental care, oral care chewing gum) to stimulate salivation.
- Possibly on acidic food and drinks to abandon or at least acid and calcium combine foods to neutralize acids.
- Calcium-rich foods (for example, dairy products) take.
- Allow at least 30 minutes to elapse between eating acidic foods and cleaning your teeth.
- To practice consistent and regular dental care with the right brushing technique: from the gums to the crown of the teeth, without excessive pressure.
- A medium-hard toothbrush and a toothpaste without using too coarse and too many abrasive particles, ie with a low RDA value (Radioactive Dentin Abrasion).
- To have regular checkups at the dentist.
What strengthens tooth enamel?
You can strengthen your tooth enamel by brushing your teeth with toothpaste containing fluoride or gargling regularly with a mouthwash containing fluoride. Both of these make your teeth more resistant to acids. Fluoride tablets are of course also an option, but you should always consult your dentist for this. Too much fluoride can – especially in children – also damage or lead to dental fluorosis (tooth discoloration).
In addition, as recommended by your dentist, you can use a fluoride gel once a week before going to bed as a “protective shield” to reduce the solubility of the tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. There is also the option of having your teeth seal up with mineralizing tooth varnish at the dentist. This is (to put it simply) a type of artificial tooth enamel.
Tooth enamel build-up naturopathic
Alternative medicine (e.g. homeopathy) also deals with the problem of tooth enamel degradation. It is recommended to take Schüßler salts, which strengthen the tooth and bone metabolism. If you want to know more about how you can support the health of your teeth naturopathically, you should speak to a dentist who takes a holistic approach. In our holistic dentistry article, we introduce you to dentists in Vienna who are familiar with homeopathy and other alternative medical healing methods.