Enamel is the hard outer layer of the tooth that protects it from damage, decay, and discolouration. It serves as a tough protective coating. Without it, teeth can become brittle, break, or rot. Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the human body. However, that doesn’t mean it’s immune to damage. As dental professionals well know, tooth enamel can become damaged in a variety of different ways.
One of those ways is through demineralization. How does this problem affect tooth health, and how do dental professionals help patients with this problem? Read on to find out.
Intra Oral Dental Assistants Should Know Demineralization Involves Decaying Tooth Enamel
Just as the term ‘demineralization’ would suggest, demineralization occurs when important minerals within tooth enamel are eroded away, causing the enamel to dissolve. Demineralization is typically seen on the outer facing teeth. Once you become a registered dental assistant, you might see demineralization appear as big white lesions on the tooth’s face.
Once the enamel begins to erode away, it’s not uncommon for the lesions to become yellow or brown in colour. Without a protective enamel coating, teeth become susceptible to stains from food, coffee, wine, and cigarettes. In addition, clients whose teeth have enamel demineralization may suffer from pain or increased sensitivity.
Registered Dental Assistants Should Know the Common Causes of Demineralization
Demineralization occurs when teeth are exposed to acids that strip away important minerals, such as hydroxyapatite. As you may learn during your intra oral dental assistant program, there are many ways that acid can find its way into a patient’s mouth. One of the most common ways this occurs is when plaque bacteria in the mouth feed on sugars left over from food. When bacteria consume these sugars, they release harmful acids that can contribute to the erosion of enamel.
In addition to the acid released by bacteria, there are many other ways teeth can be exposed to acid. Some examples are:
- Exposure to stomach acid from excessive vomiting
- Eating acidic fruit like apples and lemons
- Consuming acidic beverages like fizzy drinks
- Taking illegals drugs such as methamphetamines
Intra Oral Dental Assistants Know Demineralization Can Be Treated and Prevented
It’s important to catch the signs of demineralization early in order to make corrective changes. Some clients may be unaware that their habits are leading towards severe dental health issues. Fortunately, there are several treatments and preventative measures dentists can suggest to patients in the early stages of enamel decay.
Firstly, dentists may apply a fluoride varnish or gel to the teeth. Fluoride helps stop bacteria from producing the harmful acids that eat away at enamel. In addition, dentists can recommend their clients improve their dental routine by using a prescription-strength toothpaste or mouth rinse with fluoride. Intra oral dental assistants can also help by educating patients on how to properly brush and take care of their teeth. Patients can also make adjustments to their lifestyle. Dentists and dental assistants might recommend cutting down on acidic drinks and foods, for example, to help slow the demineralization process. With proper action taken in the early stages of demineralization, a tooth’s enamel can remineralize and become healthy again.
Are you interested in learning more about dental assistant college programs?
Contact the Canadian Academy of Dental Health today!