What is dental enamel

When we talk about dental enamel, it is enough to say that it is the hardest substance in the entire human body. This characteristic depends on the fact that dental enamel must last for life and has the great responsibility to show the appearance of teeth. The main function of the enamel is to act as protection for the soft and sensitive inner core of the teeth and to protect it from erosion caused by acidic elements.
Its hard and robust consistency is given by the high mineral content, so as to have a resistance equal to half of what the diamond has. Despite this, however, dental enamel is consumed day after day and the human organism is not able to restore this “loss”.

Causes and consequences of dental erosion

The process of eroding dental enamel is not visible to the naked eye but affects men and women of all ages without distinction, making the teeth more sensitive, exposed and vulnerable.
Food and drink are the main causes of enamel erosion, as these have aggressive components that affect the natural oral pH, often causing attacks by acids that damage tooth enamel.
Many believe that acid erosion depends only on incorrect feeding such as drinking very sugary drinks or eating “junk” foods. In reality, even foods considered healthy and soft drinks can cause enamel erosion, such as apples, vinegar or orange juice.

The tooth in the early stages of dental erosion appears “faded”, while the tip of the teeth seems almost transparent.
As a result of dental erosion, the tooth may appear yellowed. This depends on the fact that with thinning, the underlying dentin is more easily visible. Another consequence of the most exposed dentin is the dental sensitivity that can cause sharp and dense pains after ingesting cold or hot food and drinks. In more advanced erosion stages, the tooth may have micro-cracks, while the edges may appear irregular or have cracks.

Recover tooth enamel

A recent discovery has made it possible to restore dental enamel, through a synthetic fabric with structure and properties very similar to those of tooth enamel. To combat the loss of enamel, mainly due to erosion, scholars have developed a complex system to produce apatite, a mineral very similar to that of dental enamel. Apatite has a structure in nanocrystals and to promote its development proteins called “intrinsically disordered” have been used, because they are not arranged in space in a regular way as they do all the others. Thanks to their particular adaptability, these proteins are able to react positively with apatite favoring their expansion.

Apatite is a mineral with a huge advantage, namely that of being resistant to acids as well as having a modulable hardness and rigidity. The ordered nanocrystals can develop and grow even on uneven surfaces and this makes them adaptable to numerous applications in the field of regenerative medicine including repair and reconstruction of dental enamel.

How to avoid repeating the loss of dental enamel

Once the recovery treatment and restoration of the dental enamel has been carried out, it is advisable to prevent it to prevent the problem of dental erosion from recurring. Obviously avoiding this process completely is impossible, because you cannot stop eating. However, it is possible to adopt behaviors to avoid repeating the inconvenience.

Since the erosion of dental enamel is mainly caused by acidic agents, the first thing to do is to try to minimize the consumption of soft drinks and very acidic foods. If these kinds of drinks or foods are ingested, it is good to provide for rinsing the mouth to help restore the natural oral pH, thus reducing the erosion caused by acids.
As for oral hygiene, it is best to use a toothbrush with medium-soft bristles and absolutely avoid brushing your teeth immediately after ingesting acid foods or drinks.
Finally, a dental check-up should be carried out regularly at your dentist or specialist in order to check the general health of the mouth and teeth. For any doubt it is good practice to contact your dentist to arrange a check-up.

 

Before
This patient has a small notch in three of her four front teeth.

After
Minor contouring (shaping) of the enamel makes her teeth smooth and natural looking!