What is Tooth Enamel and How to Protect It

Many of our posts mention tooth enamel but we’ve never really discussed in detail exactly what tooth enamel is and the best way to care for it. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your mouth. When you look at a tooth, the enamel is what you are seeing; it covers the entire outer layer of the tooth. Enamel is primarily made up of hydroxyapatite. This is a natural calcium mineral generally found in both tooth enamel and bone. This mineral compound is semi-translucent and can vary in shades from pale yellow, grayish white and off white. Because of its translucency, tooth color is only partially based on the enamel shade.

There are no living cells in tooth enamel and it can’t regenerate like other body parts. When tooth enamel is destroyed, it can potentially cause serious problems. Enamel is the main barrier in guarding your teeth from decay. It also protects all the inner layers from damaging acids and the harmful effects of plaque. The enamel coating keeps your teeth from being damaged by foods and beverages which are too hot or cold.

Because enamel can be broken or dissolved off the tooth, it is important to follow these five tips to help keep your enamel strong.

  • Brush or at least rinse after consuming acidic foods and beverages. Limit your sugar intake.
  • Don’t chew ice and stop biting on non-food items such as the end of pens or your fingernails.
  • When brushing make sure to use a soft brush head in order to not damage the enamel.
  • If you grind your teeth, talk with your dentist about the advantages of a mouth guard.

Interested in learning more about your tooth enamel and how to protect it? Please schedule an appointment with Ellis Dental today.

What is TMD?

Commonly, though incorrectly, referred to as TMJ, temporomandibular disorder or TMD, is a medical problem surrounding the jaw, jaw joint and connecting muscles. TMJ is the abbreviation for the temporomandibular hinge joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull temporal bone; or in other words, the joint which allows your jaw to open and close.  Medical researchers don’t know exactly all the causes of TMD but have determined the symptoms begin with both the jaw muscles and the joint itself. Other possible causes are:

  • Whiplash or a heavy blow to the head.
  • Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the joint itself.
  • If the soft tissue between the joint ball and socket becomes dislocated, pain can occur and jaw motion limited.
  • Stress can often cause a person to clench their teeth or tighten those sensitive facial and jaw muscles.
  • Grinding or clenching the teeth during sleep.

TMD is generally seen in more women than men with the onset beginning as early as the late teens. Pain can be swift and severe or a dull ache that last for years. Additional symptoms include:

  • Inability to open the mouth very wide.
  • Facial and jaw pain which can radiate down the neck to the shoulders. Or pain in and around the ear especially when chewing or speaking.
  • Jaws that get locked or stuck.
  • Facial swelling and/or a tired feeling in the face.
  • Noises such as clicking or popping when moving the mouth or chewing.
  • Difficulty chewing or feeling as though the upper and lower teeth are no longer aligned.

Proper diagnosis by your dentist is the first step in determining a treatment plan for TMD. Dr. Ellis has extensive hands-on training with the Dawson Academy  to be able to deliver custom treatment to patients to treat their TMD.  If you or any of your family members are experiencing some or all of the above listed symptoms, please contact Ellis Dental today to schedule an appointment.