Tooth enamel is the toughest part of our teeth but it still needs to be protected to prevent erosion. Taking steps to prevent enamel erosion can help to keep our teeth healthy and looking their best.
What is Tooth Enamel?
Enamel is the hard outer coating of the teeth. It is the hardest material in the human body and it helps to protect our teeth against decay, physical damage, and the chemicals in our food and saliva.
What Damages Tooth Enamel?
Enamel is there to protect our teeth against various kinds of damage. Although it is much tougher than the inner parts of the tooth it is protecting, enamel can still be damaged over time. The enamel can be worn down or eroded by physical pressure, such as brushing our teeth too hard or grinding our teeth. It can also be damaged by sugar and acid in our food and drink. Citrus fruits and fruit juices are particularly acidic so they can wear down our tooth enamel over time. The acid from our stomachs can also erode enamel if teeth are often exposed to it, for example due to chronic acid reflux. Plaque can also produce chemicals that erode the tooth enamel.
Enamel erosion can cause problems because it exposes the sensitive inner parts of the tooth. Sensitive teeth are often caused by enamel erosion, which can make it harder to eat certain things, such as hot, cold, acidic or spicy foods or drinks. The teeth can also become more likely to stain and the risk of tooth decay is increased because plaque-causing bacteria can get into the tooth. Teeth will also be more likely to chip or break when they have lost their protective enamel.
Tips for Protecting Tooth Enamel
Unfortunately, we aren’t able to grow new tooth enamel, so once it has been eroded it cannot be replaced. However, enamel erosion is usually a very slow process so even if you have already lost some enamel it is possible to prevent the problem from getting worse.
- Avoid sugary and acidic foods and drinks. If you want to have them occasionally, then make sure it is at mealtimes and have a drink of water to neutralise the acid afterwards.
- Drink water throughout the day or chew sugar-free gum. It can help keep your teeth clean and neutralise any acid.
- Wait at least an hour after eating before brushing your teeth. The enamel is more vulnerable to erosion after eating, especially if you consumed anything acidic.
- Don’t brush your teeth too hard. You don’t need to push the brush against your teeth and choose a soft-bristled brush.
- Clean your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to prevent plaque building up and damaging the enamel.
Treatments are also available that can prevent enamel erosion from causing problems such as decay and damage. Tooth bonding can coat the eroded area with a protective layer of resin to improve the appearance of your teeth. Crowns or veneers can also be used to cover damaged teeth and prevent issues such as tooth decay.
Preventive dentistry is at the core of what we do at Fray’s Dental, so we can advise you on how to prevent enamel erosion and to limit the effects if you’re already experiencing problems such as sensitive teeth.