When you hear, read, or see information about teeth, most of that information centers around the enamel, which is one of the hardest substances in the human body. However, your teeth also contain dentin, which is the layer under the enamel. Our dentist in Largo, FL wants to help you understand dentin’s importance when it comes to the health and wellness of your teeth.
Dentin: An Integral Component of Your Teeth
Your teeth contain several layers. The outer-most layer is the enamel, which helps protect your teeth against wear and tear and prevents bacteria infiltration. The next layer is the dentin. Beneath the dentin lies the pulp. When the enamel starts to wear away, the dentin can be exposed, which may lead to tooth sensitivity and cavities. It’s estimated that dentin is about nine times softer than the enamel of your tooth, and once bacteria infiltrates the dentin, it can eat its way through your tooth to the pulp, leading to a severe cavity and tooth pain.
How Dentin Becomes Exposed
Dentin becomes exposed if your enamel thins. This can be due to frequent acid-attacks by eating too many sugary foods and drinks too often and not brushing and flossing your teeth every day. Dentin exposure can also occur due to a thinning of the enamel as we age. In fact, when the enamel starts to thin, it can cause the dentin to be viewable through the enamel, and since dentin tends to appear yellow, you may notice that your teeth are not a white as they were when you were younger.
If you grind your teeth at night, you can wear away your enamel. This is because frequent teeth grinding grinds down the teeth, making them appear shorter and giving them all the same height. In severe cases, the biting surfaces of your upper and lower teeth may fit together like a puzzle. Since enamel doesn’t grow back once it’s gone, you could be left with exposed dentin, tooth sensitivity, and an increased risk of developing cavities.
Using a Firm Bristled Toothbrush
If you brush using an excessive amount of force or use a firm-bristled toothbrush, you can scrub away your enamel, which may seem counter-intuitive. After all, the best way to keep your teeth healthy and to prevent cavities and gum disease is by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day. However, over-zealous brushing can also brush away your enamel.
In order to prevent this scenario, our family dentist in Largo, FL recommends always using a soft-bristled toothbrush and paying attention to how hard you are pressing those bristles against your teeth and gums. If you are concerned that you are brushing too hard, an electric toothbrush may help by allowing you to focus on angling the brush correctly, using a light touch and reaching every surface of your tooth rather than trying to angle and move the toothbrush while pressing the bristles into your teeth.
Gingivitis and Gum Recession
The enamel of your teeth only extends slightly past your gum line. The bottom portions of your tooth are comprised of dentin, and under normal circumstances, your gum tissue and jawbone protects this dentin. However, if your gums start to recede, the dentin on the bottom portions of your tooth can become exposed, leading to tooth sensitivity and cavities at or below the gumline.
Maintaining the Health and Wellness of Your Teeth and Preventing Dentin Exposure in Largo, FL
Our dentist can help you maintain the health of your teeth via regular family dental visits in Largo, FL. During your appointments, our dentist can answer your questions about proper at-home oral hygiene and brushing techniques and examine the enamel on your teeth to determine if it is being worn away and exposing your dentin. If you do have yellow teeth due to a thinning of your enamel, we can recommend certain procedures to help reduce pain associated with sensitive teeth as well as ways to help protect your teeth against further dentin exposure, like veneers and CEREC crowns.
To schedule your next dental checkup with our dentist in Largo, FL, give us a call at 727-581-1869.