Tooth enamel erosion will unfortunately occur no matter what you do. However, there are ways that you can reduce how fast it deteriorates and help rebuild it, so your teeth aren’t left defenseless. This outer protective layer of your teeth is your first line of defense against cavities and other oral health problems. Read on to learn about how you can protect your smile and spot the early signs of enamel erosion.
What is Tooth Enamel?
Tooth enamel is one of the hardest mineral substances found in the body and is even stronger than bone. It’s the hard, outer-most layer of your teeth that’s located just above the dentin, which is more sensitive to temperature and decay. Enamel is made up of several types of minerals and, while many people believe it’s supposed to be a shade of white, its color can vary from a light yellow to grayish color.
What Causes Enamel Erosion?
Tooth enamel erosion is a completely natural process that is caused by a variety of habits and oral practices, some of which can be prevented. The main substance that causes this is acid that is either consumed or produced by harmful oral bacteria. Fortunately, your saliva can help neutralize acids that you eat and drink, which helps protect your enamel. However, if you consume excessive amounts of acidic products, it may not be able to do its job as effectively, resulting in deteriorating enamel and uncomfortable symptoms such as dental sensitivity.
How Can You Tell if Your Enamel is Eroding?
There are several signs that you can look out for that may signify your enamel is eroding. Depending on the severity of the issue, the symptoms can range from hardly noticeable to uncomfortable. Here are some signs to notice:
- Dental Sensitivity: The layer underneath your enamel is your dentin, which can be incredibly sensitive when exposed to hot and cold temperatures. That’s why enamel erosion can result in an intense and sharp pain when you drink a cup of hot coffee or suck on a popsicle.
- Discoloration: Once your enamel begins to deteriorate, you may notice the yellowish color of your dentin tint your smile.
- Cracks and Dents: Your enamel is the strong protective outer layer, and without it, you may notice that your teeth develop cracks and dents caused by chewing.
What are Some Tips to Prevent Erosion and Rebuild Enamel?
The best way to reduce your risk for enamel erosion is to minimize your intake of acidic foods and beverages such as red wine. You can also keep carbonated drinks from coming into direct contact with your enamel by drinking them through a straw. Additionally, chewing sugar-free gum can help your mouth produce more acid-neutralizing saliva to prevent excessive exposure.
When you visit your dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning, be sure to let them know if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. They’ll be able to recommend special products that can help ease your discomfort and rebuild your enamel to protect your mouth.
About the Author
Dr. Rick Cofer is passionate about providing his patients with the tools and treatments they need to optimize their oral health and keep their smiles looking great. He focuses on preventive dentistry, allowing him to treat small oral health problems before they result in more serious issues down the road. For over five years, he has been a part of the Seattle Study Club and Texas Advanced Dental Seminars, keeping him up-to-date with the latest advancements in his field. For questions or to schedule a routine checkup and cleaning, visit Premier Family Dental’s website or call 254-732-0309.