Can you regrow enamel?

regrow enamel

We know how vital tooth enamel is. It covers and protects our teeth; however, aging, poor habits, certain medical conditions, or poor diet can damage the enamel. Unlike other organs in the body, it has limited repair potential because of its structure and the functions it performs. In this blog, I will discuss if is it possible to repair or regrow enamel and to what extent it can be done.

What is tooth enamel?

Enamel is the thin, outermost layer of teeth that protects the inner layers of your teeth, dentin and pulp. It is the toughest structure in the body, even stronger than your bones. It protects the teeth from physical, thermal, and chemical injury. 

What is the composition of enamel? 

Enamel comprises 96% hydroxyapatite crystals of calcium and phosphate. It contains only 3% water and 1% organic matrix. It doesn’t contain any cells, and therefore, it can’t repair or regenerate once it’s damaged. 

Read more: What does a cavity look like?

How does enamel form if it doesn’t have any cells? 

Enamel is formed from cells known as ameloblasts. Ameloblasts are a single layer of tall cells that secrete protein, where enamel will eventually form. These proteins are later dissolved and are replaced by calcium and phosphate crystals. These crystals grow until all the protein is replaced by hydroxyapatite (HA) crystals. 

Once enamel is formed, ameloblasts are no longer required and are lost during tooth eruption. In a nutshell, enamel is a dead, highly mineralized layer that covers and protects teeth.

Read more: 8 First signs of wisdom teeth coming in.

How does enamel get damaged?

Chemical damage to enamel

These enamel prisms or crystals are prone to chemical damage by acids present in the diet. Refined foods are high in white sugar and are quickly metabolized to organic acid. Also, consumption of sweetened beverages such as cola or fruit juices contains citric acid that can damage enamel. The lower the pH of food, the more damage acid is going to cause. 

Also, patients with gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) often suffer from enamel erosion due to the reflux of stomach acid, which has a pH of 1 (strong acid). Bulimia nervosa can also result in enamel erosion due to frequent throw-ups. GERD and Bulimia commonly erode the inner surfaces of the teeth, sparing the outer surfaces. 

Certain occupations put you at a high risk of dental erosion, for instance, people working in battery factories are exposed to sulphuric acid, galvanizing factory works get exposed to hydrochloric acid, swimmers from chlorinated pools and professional wine tasters. 

Read more: Can you use Vicks vapoRUb for toothache

Physical damage to enamel

Abrasion 

Aggressive toothbrushing with hard bristles can damage your enamel. Mechanical wear of enamel, known as tooth abrasion, wears the outer surfaces of the teeth and affects most frequently front teeth. 

The habit of holding hairpins between teeth, nut cracking, and nail biting creates eccentric forces on the teeth, leading to enamel notching, cracks or fractures.

Attrition

Attrition is seen in individuals with a habit of night grinding or clenching. Also, people who are under chronic stress or have aggressive personalities are more likely to clench and grind their teeth. 

Teeth grinding and clenching result in enamel loss from the chewing surfaces and teeth appearing shorter than usual. 

Read more: How to stop thumb sucking?

Can you regrow enamel?

Regrow enamel

No, it is not possible to regrow enamel, as there are no cells to regenerate it. However, you can repair and remineralize porous and demineralized enamel. 

Enamel lost as a result of attrition or abrasion can’t be rebuilt. Such defects can be covered with veneers to protect the exposed dentin and improve your esthetics. 

Why is tooth enamel so different from other organs? 

Tooth enamel is different from all the other organs in the body because of its function. Teeth are part of a complex masticatory system, which includes teeth, jaws, muscles, periodontal apparatus, and the temporomandibular joint. The biting force generated during mastication falls between 50-60kgs. So, teeth are under extreme stress and pressure during chewing. For the same reason, nature has structured enamel differently, a highly mineralized tissue devoid of cells, blood vessels, and nerves. 

How to remineralize enamel? 

The following are the ways enamel can be remineralized: 

Dietary changes

How do you regrow enamel naturally?

How do you regrow enamel naturally? You can repair, strengthen and regrow your enamel naturally by making some dietary changes. You need to include foods that strengthen enamel and avoid damaging foods.

Foods you shoud add to your diet

Dairy products are essential for the teeth and bones, especially during their formative years. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are enriched with calcium, phosphorus, and casein. Casein, in combination with Calcium and phosphorus, forms a protective around the tooth and protects the tooth from demineralization.

Adding whole grain cereals to your diet provides calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin D, and K to your teeth. The endospore in wheat germs contains all the B vitamins, which are removed in refining. 

Consumption of green tea, fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, and probiotics is crucial for maintaining healthy enamel. These foods are rich in antioxidants, anthocyanin, folate, vitamins A, C, E, K (phylloquinone), lutein, nitrate, and folate, and provide numerous benefits to your teeth and general health. 

Also, incorporate arginine-rich foods to your diet such as spinach, nuts, avocados, seafood, meat, wholegrain, eggs, and soy. Arginine maintains alkaline pH in the mouth, decreases enamel demineralization, improves tooth sensitivity, and destabilizes plaque.  

All these nutrients, when absorbed in the blood, become part of saliva as saliva is an ultra-filtrate of blood with no cells. 

Also, the fiber-rich foods allow you to chew more to break down the food before it is swallowed. Chewing increases your salivation. The saliva contains fluoride and bicarbonate, proteins that maintain an alkaline environment in the oral cavity. Moreover, dietary fiber cleanses the teeth and protects the teeth from damage caused by acidic foods such as oranges. 

Foods you should avoid 

Avoid sweetened beverages (such as fresh juices and cola), white sugar, desserts, energy drinks, and candies. Avoid the frequency of sugary foods. Frequent consumption of sweetened foods leads to more acidic spikes and damages the dental enamel. Each acidic episode takes 20-30 min for the saliva to buffer the acid. Also, avoid foods that are held in the mouth and are sucked for a longer duration, such as sweetened tablets, candies, or toffees. 

Brushing regularly with fluoridated toothpaste 

It is critical to maintain good oral hygiene if you want to keep your enamel healthy. Enamel requires healthy, proper conditions to thrive. The most crucial element for enamel is the mouth pH. Saliva and healthy oral environment has a pH of 6.8 to 7.2. Maintaining healthy pH and delivering the right minerals to the enamel while keeping it clean allows it to remineralize naturally. 

Fluoride incorporates and strengthens your teeth. It fills the demineralized surface imperfections but can’t fix the more deeper defects. When the teeth are exposed to fluoride, the demineralized enamel absorbs fluoride from toothpaste or mouthwash and makes fluorohydroxyapatite crystals.

Fluoride replaces some hydroxyl ions in the HA crystalline structure and makes fluorohydroxyapatite crystals,  which are 2x times more resistant to acid attack. In an acidic environment, enamel disintegrates and releases it minerals to neutralize the acid. Hydroxyapatite crystals disintegrate at a pH of 5.5 to 6, but fluorapatite dissolves at a pH of 4.5. 

Nano- hydroxyapatite toothpaste

These toothpaste contains hydroxyapatite (HA) nanoparticles and has effects similar to fluoride toothpaste. The nano-HA is analogous to human HA and, therefore, easily incorporates into the demineralized enamel. 

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