In June’s second Gentle Dental blog, we gave you a little lesson in the human’s body’s hardest tissue, tooth enamel. Since there is some question about products claiming they can actually rebuild damaged tooth enamel, we thought another blog was worthy of dealing with this issue.
After reading that June blog, you now know that healthy tooth enamel is key to healthy teeth. But what if your enamel has thinned? In the last year or two, you’ve probably seen the ads claiming that this toothpaste or this mouthwash can actually regrow enamel that has degraded. Is this true?
Too good to be true.
Once enamel is gone, it’s gone for good. Let’s get into the facts about enamel loss.
Enamel is tough, but not invincible.
Enamel is the hardest tissue in the human body. That surprises most people. But it makes sense. Tooth enamel has the tough job of protecting the interior tissues of the teeth, where the blood vessels and nerves reside. That’s what decay does: it works its way through the enamel and into the dentin of the tooth. And when decay is left untreated, it can get through the dentin into the pulp of the tooth. Now there will be some serious pain, as the nerves in the tooth are exposed to the infection.
If you take care of your teeth with good home hygiene and twice-yearly professional cleanings and exams with our team at Gentle Dental, your enamel will hold up. But it will thin over time. A lifetime of chewing, biting, and eating and drinking acidic foods and beverages can wear away some of the enamel protecting your teeth. That’s why the teeth of older people start to look more and more yellow. Tooth enamel is actually translucent, so as it thins more and more of the dentin (the second layer of the tooth) shows through. And the dentin layer is yellow.
But the commercials say I can rebuild my enamel…
OK, so your enamel has thinned. You’ve squeezed lemon in your tea every day of your life and its acidic properties have broken down the enamel. But on TV you just saw an ad touting the ability of this toothpaste and that mouthwash to actually rebuild your enamel. So, no big deal about the degraded enamel, right?
Wrong. Tooth enamel is tough, but it’s not living tissue. Because of that it cannot regenerate. Yes, it seems commercials are playing hard and fast with the truth by saying you can rebuild your enamel. But if you listen closely to their claims, they skirt around the truth. They are basically saying they can “remineralize” the enamel, which is much different than rebuilding it.
Mineralization is key to healthy teeth. It is what prevents decay. Teeth are constantly gaining and losing calcium and phosphates in processes known as demineralization and remineralization. Acids in foods and secreted by bacteria draw out calcium and phosphates from the teeth — demineralization — and this leads to tooth decay. Toothpastes and mouthwashes with fluoride help to put those elements back into the enamel, which strengthens it. That’s why fluoride is so important in these products, and that’s why deceptive or outright misinformed claims made by “anti-fluoride” websites are so harmful for dental health.
So, don’t waste your money on products that claim they rebuild your tooth enamel — they don’t. Spend your time and money on toothpaste with fluoride and seeing us at Gentle Dental for your twice-yearly exams and cleanings. Call us at (732) 549-5660 to make your appointment.