Your teeth are incredibly important. Not only are they vital to your ability to both eat and speak but they have an impact on your overall health as well. How you take care of your teeth will affect your quality of life over your entire lifetime. Everyone should understand the roles that oral hygiene, dental care, and healing play in lifelong oral health.
The Different Types of Tooth Damage
There are many different types of damage and tooth decay that can affect your teeth. The extent to which your teeth can heal themselves will vary widely depending on which specific type of issue you’re dealing with.
Physical Damage to Your Teeth
Some people experience physical damage to their teeth due to accidents, misalignments, and other causes. This can take the form of cracks, chips, or even having the tooth knocked out entirely.
Most cases of physical damage can’t heal on their own and present a lasting risk of further damage and tooth decay. One exception is craze lines. These are very fine cracks that are only on the outermost layer of the tooth. They can heal on their own over time. Even if they don’t, they’re only an aesthetic issue, not a health risk.
You can also damage the cusp of your tooth, the pointed part at the top. A partially attached break will have to be dealt with, but a clean break isn’t always a problem.
In many cases, the only required treatment is to grind down any jagged edges to prevent future problems. If the chip affects only the outer layer of the tooth, it’s also a purely aesthetic issue that would only need a dental crown if you want to improve the appearance of your smile.
A major crack through your tooth that exposes the inner layers will not heal itself. In fact, this is a dental emergency, and you would need to seek out immediate care. Depending on the size of the crack, you could require a tooth replacement.
Tooth decay is the result of bacteria in your mouth that eats leftover bits of food and drinks and secretes acid. This acid wears away at your enamel over the years, eventually causing cavities and other issues. Prevention is always the best way to handle tooth decay, with brushing, flossing, and regular dental cleanings.
Tooth decay moves through several stages. Only the first, where minerals inside the enamel are worn away, can heal itself. As the decay begins to eat away enamel and dentin underneath, they will not grow back. The decay can move further to affect the pulp inside, at which point you’ll require a root canal to deal with the infection.
If you do have an infected or abscessed tooth, it will not heal on its own. Patients sometimes think that if the pain from these goes away, it means they’re okay. This isn’t the case at all. The pain going away means the nerves inside the tooth are dead. The infection will continue to spread and can lead to further complications.
Aside from brushing regularly and using fluoride treatment to remineralize enamel in the earliest stages, tooth decay cannot be reversed. You’ll need a filling for any cavities or a root canal to prevent further damage and decay.
Building a Foundation for Lasting Oral Health
The ability for teeth to heal themselves is restricted to just a few cases. This means that prevention and dental treatment are the only two effective means to maintain your oral health. Setting up a solid routine can save you a lot of trouble in the long run and allow you to enjoy healthy teeth into old age.
Of course, regular brushing and flossing are necessary to maintain your teeth. You should brush twice daily and floss at least once. A toothpaste with fluoride provides additional protection. Fluoride remineralizes enamel, which helps prevent tooth decay from advancing to stages where the tooth can’t heal itself.
Regular dental cleanings are also vital. They prevent tooth decay by removing built-up plaque and tartar that brushing can’t deal with. Professional fluoride treatment can deliver even better results.
Professional Dental Care in Atlanta
If you’re looking to establish good oral health, then you can count on Dr. Brett Langston at Dental Implant and Aesthetic Specialists of Atlanta for your regular dental care needs.
We handle cleanings, general dentistry, and restorative and cosmetic procedures. We’re welcoming new patients, so you can contact us today to schedule your appointment.