I don’t suppose you’ve ever really thought of your dental enamel as an extremely rare and expensive commodity? It is, in fact, more valuable than gold or diamonds.
We are all living a life of high-pace, stressed-out living patterns. Not many people can honestly say that they don’t feel stress when their phone rings or when they look at the size of their unread email inbox. And it doesn’t stop there.
Our body has a natural reaction to grit, grind and clench our teeth when we are under stress. Whilst, we can adapt very well to this newly formed habit, it won’t be long before our teeth start to show the signs of our lifestyle. From hairline cracks to flattening of cusps and actually wearing down of the teeth, most people have a varying degree of wearing that is not due to normal functional wear and tear.
And the bad news? You will never get back the enamel you have lost! It’s gone………..forever.
So why is your enamel so important? The enamel is the protective layer that covers your teeth and makes them strong enough to withstand your normal everyday functions. But when the enamel is worn away, the soft dentine underlying it starts to become exposed. This dentine is so soft that even your toothbrush can brush it away. This leaves your teeth sensitive with “potholes” wearing away the inside of your tooth. The cost to repair this can range from a small filling to a full crown cost. And what if more than one tooth is affected? Depending on how bad the damage is, you may need to have a full rehabilitation with crown and bridge treatment to build up what you have lost.
And that’s not all……. Your temporomandibular joint will also be affected by the heavy, continuous force that you put on your teeth during your grinding or clenching. Disc clicking and popping as well as pain can be expected. And once the damage is done, it is very difficult to treat an injured TMJ.
So how do you prevent this damage from occurring to you? There is no absolute cure as your grinding or clenching is a continuous habit. But what can be done is that you have a night guard made by your dentist. This is a personalized splint that fits over your teeth and protects them. You will still be grinding or clenching on your night guard but at least you won’t be wearing your tooth structure away. It’s a cost-effective little gadget that you’ll learn to love!
Also, if you are worried that you have already worn your enamel away, your dentist can also advise you on treatments that might be necessary to rehabilitate your bite and get your joint back into its relaxed position. But be weary of the “old school” crown and bridge preparations. Be sure to ask for the most minimally invasive option possible. You don’t want to remove more tooth structure in this process.
By Dr Sheryl Smithies, associate dentist at Enamel Dental Practice.