Many people do not realize that when they see changes to their smiles—dental darkening, for example—they are usually seeing changes to their dental enamel, specifically. This is because the dental enamel is the outermost covering of a patient’s tooth. So, when we smile into the mirror, we are actually looking at our enamel (rather than layers below the enamel, such as the dentin and dental pulp).
It is very common for an adult dental patient to notice visible changes to his or her dental enamel as he or she gets older. Today our O’Fallon dentists are talking about some of these common changes: what they are and how they come about.
So let’s start by discussing dental staining and darkening; this problem can pop up for a number of reasons. Your dental enamel can accumulate environmental stains over time, due to foods, drinks, and tobacco products. Your teeth may also start to look dark or dull because the tooth root is damaged, or because the enamel is wearing away (and thus you are seeing more of the dentin of the tooth show through the surface).
Age-related dental damage is another common issue for adult dental patients. As your enamel is exposed to bacteria and acid over the years, it can thin and weaken. This, as you would imagine, leaves your teeth susceptible to developing cracks and chips. Additionally, conditions like bruxism (chronic dental grinding), if left untreated, can compromise enamel and cause cracks and chips.
It is also possible that, as you get older, you’ll start to notice that your enamel looks misshapen or uneven. This is usually due to uneven bite surfaces; over time, as you chew and your teeth hit one another, your bite surfaces may wear down unevenly.
The good news is that none of these issues is unsolvable. Our O’Fallon dental team can help you repair and rebuild your enamel, so that your smile is attractive and functional. We are her to answer any questions you may have!