You know that brushing your teeth is important, but it's helpful to understand just why it's so important to protect your teeth. Tooth enamel is just one part of your teeth and gums that affects your health, and if it begins to erode you may experience some serious issues. Prevent those problems before they start by learning about tooth enamel and how you can stop erosion in its tracks.
What Is Tooth Enamel?
Each tooth has a coating on the outside called enamel. Even though this tooth covering is thin, it's the hardest tissue in the human body. Contrary to what many people think, enamel doesn't give your teeth their color. In fact, enamel is translucent, so the color of your teeth comes from the main tooth layer just below it called the dentin. However, you can still stain your teeth with products like red wine or coffee, which brushing and visiting your dentist regularly can help prevent.
Tooth enamel's main purpose is to provide a much-needed layer of protection for your teeth. In addition to keeping your teeth in good shape as they chew and bite through food, enamel also provides insulation from hot and cold temperatures and keeps harsh chemicals or other liquids from harming your teeth.
Unfortunately, enamel can't be replaced once it is chipped or broken because it contains no living cells. That's why it's so important to protect your tooth enamel on a daily basis.
Causes Of Tooth Enamel Erosion
Enamel erosion usually occurs when harsh materials or liquids come into contact with the teeth, such as:
- Excessive citric acids or fruity drinks
- Excessive sugars or starches
- Acids from gastrointestinal problems, acid reflux or bulimia
- Certain medications, including antihistamines and aspirin
However, there are other factors which come into play as well. Excessive friction, wear and tear or stress on the teeth may cause enamel erosion. People who grind their teeth, especially those who do so unknowingly while they sleep, are also more likely to have tooth enamel erosion problems. Additionally, some people experience tooth enamel erosion which is passed on genetically or have erosion resulting from dry mouth.
Signs Of Tooth Enamel Erosion
There are many changes that may take place on the tooth when enamel erosion is occurring. For example, the teeth may become more discolored or yellow. Additionally, cracks or chips may appear at first, follow by a very round and shiny look to the teeth. In some cases, small indentations can be spotted on the teeth as well.
Another sign of tooth enamel erosion is sensitivity in the tooth itself. This is often felt especially when the person with enamel erosion eats something that is too sugary, too hot or too cold. As the enamel erosion progresses, the pain will get worse.
Effects Of Tooth Enamel Erosion
Tooth enamel erosion makes your teeth more vulnerable to the foods and drinks which you consume. Rather than having that protective layer, you teeth are now directly exposed to those substances, which can create more permanent damage. More specifically, teeth which have experienced enamel erosion are much more susceptible to cavities and tooth decay. Cavities may seem relatively harmless at first, but keep in mind that if they grow and penetrate the tooth deeper, than can affects nerve fibers in the mouth and cause an abscess or an infection.
How To Prevent The Erosion Of Tooth Enamel
Take these steps to help protect your teeth from this condition:
- Brush your teeth at least twice per day with a brush that is not too tough.
- Floss daily.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Chew sugar-free gum between meals to increase the amount of saliva in your mouth.
- Use a toothpaste containing fluoride, which strengthens the teeth.
- Rinse your mouth or brush your teeth after eating sugary foods or having a sugary or fruity drink.
- Neutralize acids in your mouth after having a meal by eating a piece of cheese or by drinking some milk.
- Avoid consuming fruity drinks, sodas, sugary foods and acidic foods whenever possible. Generally, eating a healthy diet is better for your teeth than eating lots of junk food.
- If you do drink sodas or fruit drinks, have them with a meal rather than on their own to prevent them from harming your enamel.
- Use a straw if you do drink sodas or fruit drinks to keep the liquid away from your teeth.
- Visit a dentist for regular cleanings. You can also ask about special fluoride treatments if you have problems with tooth enamel erosion.
- Get treated for conditions which cause acids to come up into the mouth from the stomach, including acid reflux, bulimia or any condition that involves vomiting.
Fortunately, there are plenty of easy ways to help prevent erosion of your tooth enamel, which includes good dental hygiene and avoiding certain foods and beverages.