Tooth enamel is the hard, outer protective layer of a tooth. It’s thin, semi-translucent — and the hardest substance in the body. Even harder than bone! Tooth enamel has so much power, its strength can protect your teeth from decay, cavities, and wear and tear.
But what happens if tooth enamel begins to erode. It may be strong, but it’s not impervious to everyday abuse.
WHAT CAUSES TOOTH ENAMEL TO ERODE?
There are a number of things that can erode your enamel. For example, certain foods and beverages like tomato-based sauces, citrus, balsamic vinegar, cola, red wine, coffee, fruit juice, and tea, as well as tobacco products, can discolor and weaken your teeth.
Moreover, when you consume a diet high in sugar, the naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth feeds on these sugars and produces enamel-dissolving acid.
Other causes of erosion include aggressive brushing, a low salivary flow and dry mouth (which prohibits the remineralization process), acid reflux, certain medications, gastrointestinal issues, and chronic teeth grinding and clenching. When your enamel weakens and thins, this makes your teeth vulnerable to discoloration, decay, cavities, sensitivity, and infection.
CAN YOU RESTORE TOOTH ENAMEL?
Unfortunately, once your enamel is gone, it’s gone for good. It can’t be replaced, but it can be temporarily repaired through a process called remineralization.
Remineralization restores minerals to the teeth to fortify and strengthen them. You can do this by daily using a fluoride toothpaste and flouride mouth rinse, eating foods high in calcium and phosphorus (such as cheese, yogurt, and almonds), and increasing your salivary flow by drinking a lot of fluoridated water, chewing sugar-free gum, and practicing superb oral hygiene habits.
HOW CAN I PREVENT FURTHER DAMAGE?
You can also take steps to prevent further thinning of your enamel:
- If you grind your teeth at night, ask us about a custom nightguard to protect your smile.
- Gently brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time using a fluoride toothpaste. If you think you are applying too much pressure (often manifest as receding gums), consider investing in an electric toothbrush that monitors your brushing pressure.
- Floss at least once a day to remove sugary particles from between your teeth that could lead to plaque buildup and the production of damaging acids.
- Eat a healthy diet low in starchy and sugary foods, and high in fibrous fruits and vegetables and foods that contain calcium and phosphorus.
- Drink plenty of water to allow for a healthy flow of saliva.