Our teeth are pretty amazing. Once our adult teeth grow in, they’re used every day and still retain their durability. Given how often we grind our teeth or crunch on hard foods like chips and candy, it’s impressive that our teeth keep on working!
But that’s all thanks to our teeth’s enamel. Without enamel, our teeth would be much more sensitive and vulnerable tools. In fact, it’s fair to say that our teeth would fall out way more quickly if enamel wasn’t there to protect them from bacteria and physical damage.
But what happens when your teeth’s enamel wears down over time? Is it possible for tooth enamel to grow back? Not exactly, although it is possible to repair tooth enamel if you catch decay before it’s gone too far.
Let’s take a closer look at tooth enamel and how the decay process works in detail.
What is Tooth Enamel?
In a nutshell, tooth enamel is a durable and protective shell that covers the dentin or surface material of your teeth. Think of it as armor that protects your teeth from bacteria and from grinding damage.
Without enamel, your teeth would be worn down much more quickly over time, leading to pain and even rotten teeth.
Tooth enamel is so strong that it’s actually the toughest tissue in your body. But despite its durability, tooth enamel is not truly invincible. Given enough time, it can be worn down.
Unfortunately, once your teeth’s enamel armor is whittled away with time or bacterial attacks, it can never be replaced. Therefore, it’s important to maintain healthy teeth as well as you can.
Tooth enamel can be eroded by:
- Drinking too many soft drinks and other sugary beverages
- Eating or drinking too many fruits or fruit juices
- Acid reflux disease – the acid from your stomach wears down the enamel over time
- Bacteria – when bacteria collect on your teeth and form plaque, they produce acid that can strip down the enamel layer
- Grinding your teeth, either in your sleep or on hard objects like ice
Can You Restore Tooth Enamel?
Tooth enamel, once fully removed, can never be truly restored or replaced. Enamel isn’t living tissue, like your skin or other tissue across your body. So your body doesn’t replace it when it wears down.
Furthermore, even advanced dental science hasn’t yet cracked a way to regrow enamel with special toothpastes or other commercial products.
The stakes are clear – keep your enamel healthy at all costs, since once it’s gone, it’s gone!
However, tooth enamel can be repaired to some extent. As the enamel layer of your teeth suffers damage, small holes might form. You can plug those holes with fluoride and other minerals through the re-mineralization process.
In other words, if you haven’t been practicing great dental hygiene so far and are worried about your teeth’s enamel, there’s still time to turn things around!
What Are the Symptoms of Tooth Enamel Decay?
Not sure whether it’s too late for your teeth’s enamel? You can look for some common signs of tooth enamel decay to see how far things have gone.
A toothache is a sign that your teeth’s roots and nerves are exposed to hot or cold temperatures or too much pressure. Your teeth’s enamel normally protects teeth from hazards like pressure or hot liquids. If you have a consistent toothache, odds are that there are one or more spots where the enamel layer on that tooth could use some work.
Similarly, tooth sensitivity can be a big sign of tooth enamel decay. As the enamel layer wears down, your teeth will become more sensitive to regular chewing and to other stimuli, like sugary foods.
Pain When Eating or Drinking
If you experience pain when eating or drinking at all, it might be a sign that your tooth’s enamel is either entirely or almost gone. The more regular your tooth sensitivity or pain is, the likelier it is that the enamel has been worn down and you’ll need to see your dentist.
Visible Holes or Pits
If things go so far that you see visible holes or pits in your teeth, contact your dentist ASAP. You don’t just have enamel decay to deal with – now you also have one or more cavities.
How Long Does It Take for Enamel To Grow Back?
The process of re-mineralization involves absorbing minerals like fluoride and calcium to fill in the gaps of your teeth’s enamel layer. Fortunately, once some tooth enamel decay has started, it can take some time for the re-mineralization process to really kick in.
Using fluoride toothpaste and taking a vitamin C supplement in conjunction may result in mild benefits or improvements within a few weeks. More importantly, you’ll need to maintain an excellent dental hygiene routine and avoid some of the enamel erosion risks mentioned above for much longer.
If your dentist tells you that your enamel is being worn down, adjust your eating habits and dental routine accordingly for at least several months. Even afterward, you’ll need to maintain a great dental hygiene routine to prevent your enamel from wearing down again.
How Can I Rebuild My Tooth Enamel Naturally?
As mentioned, re-mineralization allows you to rebuild your tooth enamel over time. There are lots of natural ways to do this, fortunately.
Brush Your Teeth with Fluoride Toothpaste
The best way by far is to use fluoride toothpaste in conjunction with an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes provide better brushing action and can result in a more thorough brushing job compared to manual brushes.
One great example is the Zina45 Sonic Pulse Toothbrush. It includes a polishing head, 4 unique cleaning modes, and even a two-minute timer built in so you don’t have to count down in your head. It even makes cleaning under the gum line quick and easy!
Fluoride toothpaste is ideal compared to other types since fluoride is a unique mineral that can bind with calcium and other minerals on the surface of your teeth. It naturally strengthens your teeth’s enamel just by exposure.
But you need to use fluoride toothpaste regularly to see this benefit. Brush your teeth twice per day for the best results.
If you need toothpaste that gets the job done, Supersmile’s Professional Whitening Toothpaste tastes great and has tons of fluoride for extra effective re-mineralization.
Cut Sugar Where You Can
Avoid eating sugary foods or drinking sugary drinks, as sugar is one of the best fuel sources for the bacteria that collect on the surfaces of your teeth.
By cutting down on sugar, you deprive bacteria of their primary food source and prevent them from creating as much acid as they would otherwise. This, in turn, benefits your teeth’s enamel.
Put More Calcium in Your Diet
Calcium is a key mineral for your overall tooth health and for the enamel layer. Eating calcium-rich foods like cheese and yogurt, or even taking a calcium supplement, can give your teeth more of this mineral and assist with the process of re-mineralization.
Decrease Dairy Consumption
However, you might also consider skipping dairy products and getting your calcium from other sources, like vegetables, as dairy can also provide food for plaque-forming bacteria. If you want to err on the side of caution, skip cheese and yogurt and go with supplements or vegetables instead.
Consider Probiotic Supplements
Lastly, you can help your teeth’s enamel layer by taking probiotic supplements. Probiotics bolster your gut bacteria or helpful microorganisms in your body. By boosting the gut microbiome, your body will be healthier overall. More importantly, they decrease the concentration of harmful bacteria in your mouth, reducing the amount of enamel erosion your teeth are exposed to everyday.
When Should I See a Dentist?
Even with the above techniques, it’s still a good idea to see a dentist if your teeth experience incessant or excessive sensitivity, or if you don’t think your enamel remineralization efforts are working.
A dentist can take a closer look at your teeth and see whether one or more cavities are at work. They may also be able to provide you with toothpaste enriched with even more fluoride compared to commercially available options. Such prescription toothpaste can assist with the re-mineralization process even more effectively.
Don’t forget to see a dentist twice per year for regular cleanings. Your biannual cleaning gets rid of plaque and bacteria that might chew away your teeth's enamel layer in places you can’t reach easily with floss or toothbrush bristles.
The Bottom Line
All in all, tooth enamel can’t grow back if it has already been fully worn down. But damaged enamel can be repaired if you adopt a great dental hygiene routine and make sure to use fluoride-rich toothpaste.
Fortunately, you can find plenty of great enamel-boosting solutions right here at Supersmile. Check out our online store to find toothpaste, high-quality toothbrushes, and even an oral rinse that’s perfect for clearing away enamel-eroding bacteria en masse.