How Teeth Protect Themselves

Today’s dentistry offers a wealth of knowledge and services to treat virtually any issue that can threaten your oral health. Maladies that our ancestors once created myths to explain (such as the tooth worm that the ancients believed was responsible for toothaches) can now be treated or reversed in as little time as a single visit to your dentist’s office.

However, like most health issues, prevention is always the best medicine. Luckily, dentistry’s advancement has also provided innovative methods for preventing many of the most common oral health issues.

The Protective Layer Around Teeth

The number of illnesses that can threaten your health is impressive, but your body is not defenseless, including your teeth. Surrounding every healthy tooth is a layer known as enamel, which happens to be the strongest substance that your body produces. Enamel protects your tooth from food debris, bacteria (which comprise dental plaque), and other harmful influences.

Made almost entirely of minerals, enamel becomes weak when attacked by organic acids, which are often produced by oral bacteria after consuming sugars and other carbs. Brushing and flossing your teeth helps eliminate bacterial plaque and reduce the risk of acid attacking your teeth. At your dental checkup and cleaning, your dentist may recommend fluoride treatment, during which fluoride bonds to your tooth enamel and strengthens it against bacteria attacks.

Protection for Your Protective Tooth Enamel

The biting surfaces of your teeth, known as the cusps, offer a semi-safe haven for bacterial plaque to gather. If left for 48 hours or more, this plaque will harden (calcify) into tartar, which cannot be removed with your toothbrush. A dental sealant acts as synthetic tooth enamel to literally seal and protect your tooth from bacteria. Your tooth must be completely healthy and free of bacteria and/or infection; otherwise, the sealant will backfire and trap the infection.