Tooth enamel ranks as the strongest substance found in the human body. Considering how much punishment people inflict on their teeth daily by chomping and chewing, the hard outer layer of enamel each tooth possesses must be tough in order to protect the delicate dentin inside.
Unlike the exterior of a tooth, the interior dentin consists of a soft mass that contains microscopic tubes that travel to your tooth never center. When your enamel becomes chipped, cracked, or broken, the dentin becomes exposed to outside stimuli and bacteria. This allows hot, cold, sweet, and even sour foods and drinks to stimulate the nerves inside of your tooth and cause pain and discomfort whenever you consume these types of items. Exposed dentin also becomes more susceptible to bacteria, which can lead to tooth decay and cavities.
At Tigard Family Dental, the Tigard dentists want to ensure your teeth remain healthy and strong. To enjoy a lifetime of strong teeth and gums, it’s vital you prevent enamel erosion.
Enamel Erosion Causes
A variety of factors can lead to the loss of tooth enamel, including:
- Practicing poor oral hygiene. Your mouth contains natural bacteria called plaque that produces substances that erode away tooth enamel whenever you consume sugar. Forgetting to brush and floss daily allows plaque to build up in the mouth, leading to more damage occurring to the health of your teeth whenever you eat or drink sugar.
- Diets high in acidic foods. If you eat a lot of citrus fruit or other sour foods, you raise the acidity levels in your mouth and upset the natural pH balance. While you might enjoy the taste of these items, your teeth’s enamel becomes weakened whenever the acidity levels become too high. This allows plaque to cause even more damage to the health of your teeth, and can lead to enamel erosion.
- Dry mouth. Saliva acts as the body’s natural defense mechanism against bacteria by washing plaque and lingering foods particles away from your teeth. Individuals who suffer from dry mouth- a condition that prevents the mouth from producing enough saliva- don’t receive the benefits provided by saliva, which allows plaque to build up and cause more damage whenever you consume sugary foods and drinks.
- If you suffer from chronic heartburn or acid reflux disease, the stomach acid that travels back up through the esophagus and into the mouth can cause enamel erosion.
- More commonly referred to as teeth grinding, bruxism is a condition common in individuals who suffer from excess stress. Bruxism causes people to unconsciously grind their teeth, which over time can eventually wear down tooth enamel causing cracks to form.
Enamel Erosion Symptoms
When the enamel on your teeth begin to erode away, your teeth become more vulnerable to decay and cavities, which can lead to symptoms as:
- Tooth sensitivity or tooth pain when consuming hot, cold, sweet, or sour foods and drinks.
- Irregular or rough edges on your teeth, which can become cracked or chipped when enamel is lost.
- Shiny, smooth patches on the surface of your teeth caused by demineralization of your enamel.
- Enamel thinning that causes your teeth to appear yellowish.
- Small dents or indentations on the surface of your teeth.
Protecting Your Enamel From Erosion
While the practicing quality oral hygiene and scheduling regular checkups with rank as the best ways of preventing enamel erosion, here are a few additional tips that can help.
- Reduce the number of acidic drinks, such as fruit juice and carbonated sodas, you consume daily. When you do drink these types of beverages, make sure it’s with a meal to help minimize the impact the acids these types of drinks contain have on your teeth.
- Thoroughly rinse your mouth out with water after consuming any highly acidic foods or drinks.
- Drink fruit juice or soda through a straw. This helps to reduce the amount of liquid that comes into contact with your front teeth.
- Finish a meal high in acidic foods with a piece of cheese or glass of milk, both of which act as neutralizing agents that help offset mouth acidity.
- Chew sugar-free gum following every meal. Chewing gum after meals increases saliva flow in the mouth, which helps to wash away excess plaque and food particles from your teeth.
- Wait at least an hour prior to brushing your teeth after consuming acidic foods and drinks. Immediately after consuming these types of items, your tooth enamel becomes softened and more susceptible to erosion during brushing.
If you have any further questions about how to prevent enamel erosion, make sure to ask Tigard OR dentists for recommendations on the best practices for you during your next visit to Tigard Family Dental.