The teeth are protected by the hardest substance in the human body: enamel. The enamel is a crystalline calcium compound that forms a thick, solid shield over the tops of your teeth, and it guards the dentin and pulp layers beneath it.
One of the first things your dentist checks during your visit is the integrity of the enamel on your teeth. Many dental problems are due to issues with the enamel, particularly cracks or cavities.
Let’s talk about how best to protect your tooth enamel and what types of foods and drinks can cause enamel erosion.
Our teeth are constantly subjected to destructive substances in our food and drink. It seems nearly impossible to eat food that doesn’t contain an ingredient which targets tooth enamel.
Loss of enamel can particularly be caused by the following:
Not brushing often enough
Medications that cause dry mouth
Foods and drinks that can erode the enamel include fruit and fruit juices, soft drinks, and hard sugary candies. A white spot, indentation in the tooth, yellowing, and sensitivity are often the first indications of a problem with the enamel.
The body doesn’t replace the enamel, but you can help restore the minerals in your enamel by using a fluoride toothpaste and consuming plenty of calcium-rich foods. If you don’t eat very many dairy products, be sure to take a calcium supplement.
When enamel is lost and must be replaced artificially, your dentist has several options. These include amalgam (silver) fillings, composite fillings, and crowns. Even cosmetic dentistry treatments can help protect and replace lost enamel.
When the enamel is worn down, the natural yellow color of dentin makes its presence known. This is a sign that decay has progressed past the initial stage.
Any presence of chips or cracks which are visible on the surface of a tooth means that the enamel is eroded. This means that the tooth is weaker, and just biting or chewing can cause breakage of a tooth.
Extreme sensitivity to cold and heat from beverages is another indicator of the enamel being worn down. This is because the sensitive layer of dentin is reacting to temperatures. Even eating a sweet snack can cause a jolt of pain, meaning the teeth are in a weakened state.
The basic steps to fighting enamel loss include the following:
Brush your teeth at least twice a day
Floss or use a Waterpik to clean between teeth and gums
Swish with a fluoride mouthwash
Chew sugarless gum
Drink plenty of water
Chewing gum produces saliva in the mouth, and saliva naturally washes away harmful acids and bacteria in the mouth. Ask your dentist about whether prescription-strength toothpaste would be right for you, and ask about sealers – which form a protective coating over the teeth.