Ouch! Are your teeth sensitive to heat and cold? It could be due to the enamel. This is how you keep a strong bite.Your tooth enamel works hard every day. Thanks to it, you can eat a challenging piece of meat yourself or grit your teeth during a workout. Tooth enamel is the most complex material in the whole body, and with the proper care, it stays that way.
If you neglect your enamel, however, it will eventually thin or even break off. This damage cannot be reversed, and even little things like a cold drink or an apple can suddenly cause pain. Diseases such as tooth decay can also attack the tooth much more quickly. So that this doesn’t happen to you, we will show you how to strengthen your tooth enamel.
Why Does Tooth Enamel Dissolve?
The outer layer of the tooth, also called enamelum, consists of a grid-like compound of calcium and phosphate, the so-called hydroxyapatite. It’s pretty robust, but it has an archenemy: acid. Acidic pH in the mouth is most common when you eat acidic or high-carbohydrate foods. “This removes minerals from the enamel and the lattice of the enamel softens,” explains dentist Julia Seidler from the Berlin Dental Center. This makes it much more susceptible to external stress, for example, when chewing or brushing teeth.
But it’s not just food that can make saliva more acidic. In around 20 percent of Germans, gastric juice runs up the esophagus while sleeping and ends in the mouth. “This reflux disease damages the mucous membranes and teeth because they are exposed to stomach acid for hours,” explains Seidler.
Time also leaves its mark. Whenever you eat or brush your teeth, the teeth rub against each other and are rubbed off minimally. This is not too much of a problem, but if you grind your teeth due to stress or use a too-hard toothbrush, this abrasion can become too severe and cause problems.
What Happens When The Enamel Breaks?
If the enamel is not adequately cared for, it will become softer and thinner. Then if you eat something hard, the layer can get scratched or even chip. As a result, the sensitive dentine is less protected from temperature fluctuations or acidic foods. If your teeth come into contact with it, you will feel a nasty pain that can extend into the jaw. In addition, the tooth is then more prone to diseases such as tooth decay because bacteria can lodge better in the soft and roughened tooth enamel. In the worst case, you will get what is known as tooth enamel hypoplasia, in which your tooth enamel has receded so much that your teeth become dull and shimmering, and you get severe pain.
Can Enamel Build Up Again?
“Neither nerves nor blood vessels run in the enamel, similar to fingernails,” explains the dentist. Therefore, the enamel cannot regenerate itself. In contrast to the nails, the layer does not grow back either. What is broken once cannot be repaired. In such cases, only the dentist can try to rebuild the affected areas, for example, with fillings or crowns. Only when the tooth enamel is softer but not eroded can you strengthen it again with the proper care.
How Can You Strengthen The Enamel?
The Good News: It’s not that difficult to keep your tooth enamel healthy. “The most important thing is that the enamel is not exposed to an acidic pH value for too long and unnecessary abrasion is avoided,” explains Seidler. You can use these habits to strengthen your tooth enamel:
Avoid Too Many Acid Certain foods cause the pH value to drop, i.e. It becomes more acidic. On the one hand, these are short carbohydrates such as sugar or white flour; on the other hand, acidic foods can also attack the teeth. Examples of this are soft drinks such as cola or lemonade, but wine, juices, or sour fruit also soften the enamel.
Wait To Clean
“After eating, the enamel takes up to 90 minutes to completely regenerate,” says Seidler. After eating, you should therefore leave the toothbrush for at least half an hour. The longer, the better.
“If you scrub your teeth with a lot of pressure with a hard toothbrush, the enamel gradually wears off,” warns the dentist. Does your toothbrush look completely flattened and messy after a short time? Then brush with less pressure and slower movements in the future.
Don’t Drag The Food Out Too Long
“It makes a big difference to the teeth whether you eat the same food in a few minutes or over a long period of time,” says the doctor. For example, if you sip a glass of orange juice for an hour, it is worse for your teeth than if you drink a liter at a time. This is because the pH value in the mouth is acidic for much longer, which means more time in which the tooth enamel is weakened.
Combine Foods Cleverly
Some foods put a strain on the enamel, but some foods counteract this. Above all, fats such as coconut oil or dairy products help tooth enamel to stay healthy. So cut your fruit into a portion of quark or eat a piece of cheese after the main course.
No dairy products on hand? Then take some (sugar-free) chewing gum after your meal. “This stimulates the flow of saliva and ensures that the acid in the mouth is broken down more quickly,” explains Seidler. But be careful. If you are prone to jaw problems or teeth grinding, chewing can put additional strain on the temporomandibular joint.
Don’t Whiten Teeth
Home remedies or toothpaste that is supposed to whiten teeth are a disaster for tooth enamel. The white effect is based either on acid or abrasive particles that remove the discolored areas. Then the stains are gone, but so is the tooth enamel. In addition, the layer is roughened so that new discolorations can form even faster. Plus: Due to the thinner enamel, the darker dentine shimmers through at some point.
Eat A Balanced Diet
Shouldn’t you then wholly avoid acidic and carbohydrates for the sake of your teeth? No, because a balanced diet is also essential for your teeth. “Vitamins and trace elements promote the growth and maintenance of oral structures, teeth and mucous membranes,” explains Seidler. This means that you can (and even should) bite the bullet regularly.
Is Fluoride Harmful?
Another component of dental care is the appropriate toothpaste, which usually contains fluoride. However, this substance is currently under criticism: In theory, it can cause acute or chronic poisoning or what is known as fluorosis. The toxic dose for adults is between 32 and 64 milligrams per kilo of body weight. For a man who weighs 80 kilograms, it is around 2560 milligrams. For comparison: There is about 1 milligram of fluoride in a serving of toothpaste, and a large part of it is spat out again. “The legal limit values in fluoridated toothpastes ensure that the concentration is harmless,” describes Seidler. Only if you have young children should you get them a child-friendly toothpaste with a lower concentration.
It would help if you didn’t do without fluoride. “It has been scientifically proven that the locally applied fluoride has significantly reduced the number of caries diseases,” explains Seidler. In average amounts, this salt settles in the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to acid. “It has not yet been possible to demonstrate this effect with alternative pastes such as Biorepair,” says the doctor.
You can also get fluoridated table salt or even green tea to help. “The tea plant enriches natural fluoride as it grows, which is why green and black tea remineralise the tooth enamel,” says the dentist. The discoloration that comes from the tea isn’t bad and can be brushed away.
Damage to tooth enamel is irreparable but easy to avoid. It is essentially a question of having the proper habits to keep tooth enamel healthy.