Tooth enamel is the toughest tissue in the human body. It helps protect teeth from damage that can be causing by chomping, biting, crunching, and grinding. Enamel also acts as a sort of insulator to protect teeth from heat and cold foods and liquids, and acidic foods and drinks such as fruit juice.
Healthy tooth enamel is critical to dental health. But since it has no living cells, the body cannot repair enamel if it is damaged. At least not yet. A startup company called Auxomel formed at the University of Southern California (USC) Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry is developing a peptide-gel prototype to regrow human tooth enamel and slow decay.
The university recently recognized Auxomel with an award for innovation at the USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase, an annual competition that gives the school’s entrepreneurs an opportunity to present their ideas to the business community. Auxomel also won the Venture Validation award sponsored by the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the USC Marshall School of Business.
Until we can regrow our dental enamel, it’s important to protect it so it can protect your teeth. And amazingly, for a substance that is so resilient, it’s not hard to damage your dental enamel when you brush your teeth.
Know Your Tooth Enamel
The enamel that covers your teeth is comprised of tiny, tightly-packed rods of minerals. Each rod is comprised of millions of carbonated hydroxyapatite crystals, and the rods in single tooth range from 5 million in the lower lateral incisor to 12 million in the upper first molar.
Brushing your teeth with a side-to-side motion goes against the orientation of the enamel rods in your teeth, which can cause the rods to weaken and break. Instead, position your toothbrush’s bristles at a 45-degree angle to the surface of the teeth and brush gently in small circles.
Focus on brushing just a few teeth thoroughly, then move on to the few, working your way around the circumference of your mouth. Be especially careful when brushing near your gums – hard, side-to-side brushing here can cause irritation that can lead to infection, receding gums, and pain.
More Tooth Brushing Basics
Dental hygienists advise brushing for three minutes, and you probably figure that’s about how long you devote to your teeth during each brushing session. But check the time next time you brush – you might be surprised. If you find that you tend to race though brushing time, get a timer that you can bring into the bathroom to pace yourself or use an electronic brush with its own timer.
And do look in the mirror when you are brushing. As noted above, it’s important to be gentle around your gum area, but it’s equally important to clean the area properly. Plaque, tartar and bacteria tend to congregate around the gum line. Removing plaque does not take force, it just requires you to gently and thoroughly clean your teeth. Tartar – hardened plaque – does require a professional cleaning to dislodge without damaging your teeth.
Use a soft brush to further ensure you aren’t ravaging your dental enamel in the pursuit of cleanliness. You may want to talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about electronic toothbrushes or the newer brushes that use ultrasound to destroy bad bacteria and debris without the need to brush. Some electronic brushes also have a feature that warns you if you are brushing too hard.
Whatever sort of toothbrush you choose, remember to replace the brush tip or the brush itself every three months – or sooner if the bristles are worn, bent or frayed. Also, replace your toothbrush if you’ve just recovered from a cold, the flu or other ailment. Germs like to lurk in your brushes bristles. It’s also a very good idea to isolate your brush from the rest of the family’s brushes when one of you is ill.
Remember, you can get your teeth clean without scrubbing them unmercifully. And don’t think that aggressive brushing can substitute for regular trips to the dentist. Be gentle with your teeth, and take them to the dentist for proper cleanings to enjoy a bright, healthy smile.
Can’t fit the dentist into your budget? dental savings plans, an alternative to traditional dental insurance, enable you to save 10%-60% on your dental care. Unlike dental insurance, with a dental savings plan there are no annual spending caps, waiting periods, approval process or restrictions on pre-existing conditions.
Visit dentalplans.com or call us at 1-800-238-5163 to find out about how dental savings plans can help make quality dental care affordable