Your teeth are incredible tools that sit right in your mouth every day. You may not realize it, but teeth do more than just make up your smile. They give you the ability to eat and speak with ease. Without them, it would be difficult for you to maintain proper nutrition. It is one of the many reasons your oral health is essential.
Teeth act as a gateway to your overall health. Calcium and other minerals make up the chemical composition of your teeth. Your teeth are the hardest substance in your whole body. Additionally, your teeth have a complex structure. Much like an onion or a jawbreaker candy, teeth have several layers. Each layer has an important function.
The layer that you see every day is the enamel. When you look in the mirror at your teeth, you are looking at the enamel. It is the protective outer covering of your teeth. Made up of calcium and phosphorus, enamel keeps the delicate inner tissues from bacteria or other destructive materials. Enamel is strong, but it is a thin layer that lack of care or trauma can permanently damage.
The enamel is not a living part of the human body, meaning it has no blood flow or tissues. Therefore, you cannot restore the enamel if it gets damaged or worn away. Only a dentist can repair the enamel, but it is through restorative means. For example, a dentist can give you a filling or resin bonding, but the body cannot regenerate enamel.
Under the enamel lies the dentin. Dentin is a hard tissue that acts as a cushion between the enamel and the pulp. Within the dentin, there are small connective tubes. If there is damage to the enamel, these tubes allow heat or cold temperatures to reach the nerves inside the pulp. Additionally, sugary or acidic foods also travel through the dentin, causing sensitivity.
The pulp is the innermost layer of the tooth. Minerals are the main components of the enamel and the dentin. However, the pulp is made of connective tissues, blood vessels, and nerves. It is the portion of your tooth that is alive. The pulp actually creates dentin and keeps your tooth healthy.
When decay or trauma exposes the pulp, you can experience pain or discomfort. Additionally, the exposed pulp is likely to become infected. Finally, damage to the pulp can cause the tooth to die, which means you can expect an extraction.
What Can Go Wrong?
The most common cause of tooth decay is a lack of proper oral hygiene. If you brush and floss your teeth as recommended, your teeth are more likely to stay healthy and free from cavities and disease.
However, plaque buildup can create an environment where bacteria thrive. Bacteria generate an acid that slowly eats away at the enamel, destroying your teeth. Over time, the plaque will cause irritation to the gum, increasing your chances of developing gum disease.