How Enamel Breakdown Works

While it is translucent and seemingly invisible, the enamel on your teeth are very important. You wouldn’t have your strong, white teeth without it.  Your tooth enamel is the hard, clear protective, outer covering of your teeth.

This crucial tooth strengthener and protector, however, isn’t invincible.

Injury to a tooth, such as a tooth that gets chipped or broken, can crack and damage the tooth enamel, which in turn can compromise the strength of the tooth and the tooth’s resistance to tooth decay.

Poor oral hygiene, the lack of professional dental care, lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking and a diet high in sugar and starches, can also destroy tooth enamel.

This later breakdown of tooth enamel is caused by unchecked, improperly treated plaque.

To understand the breakdown of tooth enamel, one must know of the important, crucial role of saliva. Saliva is your body’s natural, built-in mouthwash. It rinses out food particles from between teeth and it coats the teeth and gums to make their surfaces too slippery for food particles, germs and bacteria to stick to their surfaces.

Saliva also has the important role of coating the teeth with needed calcium and other minerals. These important vitamins and mineral help strengthen tooth enamel, making it the tooth hard and more resistant to decay.

As mentioned previously, there are many ways tooth enamel can become compromised. In cases where to the tooth enamel breaks down, there are conditions that hinder the replenishing, nourishing and strengthening of the tooth enamel.

When tooth enamel break down occurs, the tooth becomes susceptible to various oral health issues including tooth decay and gum disease.

When one thinks of tooth enamel break down, you likely think of the tooth enamel dissolving. In a sense, that is exactly what happens.

When certain drinks and foods are consumed, lifestyle choices are made, medication is taken and other oral health conditions, the saliva in the mouth can’t combat the onslaught of bacteria and germs. When the germs and bacteria find food particles to feed on, an acidic film is produced. The acid of this film that covers the teeth and gums, dissolves and destroys tooth enamel. This acidic food particle decomposition byproduct can accumulate on and between teeth in the form of plaque.

The acid of the plaque gradually eats away at tooth enamel and create pits in the enamel. The pits become more widespread and larger if not treated.

If left unchecked, acidic plaque will continue to destroy more and more layers of tooth enamel until the germs and bacteria penetrate the pulp (or center) of the tooth.

Tooth enamel doesn’t replenish itself as it isn’t made of living cells. Therefore, once tooth enamel is broken down and eroded, it’s gone forever.

Therefore, it is important to protect your tooth enamel. Below are some common culprits that cause the break down of tooth enamel and which you should either avoid or limit your intake of:

  • Soft drinks, which include high levels of citric and phosphoric acids

  • Fruit juices, which can have acid that is stronger and more corrosive than batter acid

  • A diet high in starches and sugar

  • Certain medications, namely antihistamines and aspirin

  • Excessive teeth grinding and jaw clenching from stress

Other factors that can increase your risk of tooth enamel corrosion include:

  • Certain genetic oral health conditions

  • Gastrointestinal conditions

  • Eating disorders

  • Acid reflux disease and GERD

  • Dry mouth or low salivary flow (xerostomia)

Your tooth enamel is important for strong, beautiful teeth. Once it has become broken down and compromised, the enamel can’t grow back and the teeth are more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease.

Proper oral hygiene, a nutritious and balanced diet and regular visits to the dentist are ways you can protect your teeth enamel from break down.

If it has been a while since your last dental examination and teeth cleaning, contact us Madison Smile Solutions today to schedule an appointment.