by West Coast Dental
Tooth enamel is the thin outer portion of the tooth. Healthy tooth enamel ranges in color from a light yellowish color to a bluish-white. Enamel is made up of a high percentage of minerals and is the hardest substance in the body. Its purpose is to protect the sensitive inner layers of the teeth from cavity-causing acids. When enamel wears away, it exposes more of the yellow inner layer of the toot, which is called dentin.
What Causes Tooth Enamel Damage?
The acids that are present in the foods and liquids we consume are the main reason for enamel erosion. Although our saliva helps to neutralize the acids in our mouths, it cannot prevent the outer layer of enamel from degrading over time if too much acidic foods and drinks are consumed. Some of the top foods and drinks that put enamel at risk include:
- Acidic fruits such as apples, berries and citrus fruits.
- Sodas which contain sugar as well as enamel-damaging citric acid and phosphoric acid.
- Starchy foods such as bread.
- Sugary, sticky foods such as caramel, syrup and ice cream.
Enamel erosion is also caused by:
- Acid reflux.
- Dry mouth.
- Certain medications.
- Teeth grinding.
When tooth enamel is damaged, teeth are more vulnerable to the formation of cavities or tooth decay. A person may not even be aware of the problem while small cavities form. However, as they grow and penetrate the tooth, the tiny nerve fibers may be impacted which is not only painful but can create an abscess or an infection.
How to Strengthen Enamel
The good news is that there are ways you can strengthen your tooth enamel. These actions will subsequently protect your oral health, as well.
Maintain Good Preventive Care
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing once is a crucial part of removing bacteria in your mouth. Cavities are caused by the accumulation of bacteria in your mouth that gets there with food and drink. Brushing your teeth regularly can help keep mineral loss and cavity formation to a minimum.
Most municipalities today have fluoridated water, but the American Dental Association still recommends that you use a fluoride toothpaste for brushing. It not only helps to prevent tooth decay, but it can also make your teeth stronger, making them less vulnerable to mineral loss in the future.
Visit your dentist regularly for examinations and cleanings. Your dentist can keep an eye out for tooth decay while it is still small and before it gets out of hand. Routine exams will also alert your dentist to other potential problems while they are still in their early stages.
Reduce Sugar Consumption
Sugar is one of your teeth’s worst enemies. It is highly acidic and interacts with the bacteria in the mouth by breaking down tooth enamel. It’s interesting to note that it turns out that the frequency of sugar consumption is more important than how much is consumed. The more often you consume sugar, the more demineralization becomes a problem.
Although many people believe that fruit juice is a healthy beverage, the truth is that juice is loaded with sugar. The acids in fruit bind to the tooth enamel and work to strip it away. Fruit juices often contain added sugar, making it even more damaging to tooth enamel. Water is by far the healthiest beverage. It’s naturally sugar-free, and it also helps flush out harmful substances from your body.
Take Your Vitamins
Although our teeth have calcium naturally, this mineral is gradually stripped away over time because of acids and bacteria. Make sure your diet is well-rounded with plenty of calcium-rich foods. Some studies have shown that vitamin D supplements can offer some protection against cavities.
Consider taking probiotics which can help with remineralization. You can find them in supplement form, and some brands of yogurt also include probiotics. Talk to your doctor about adding probiotics and vitamins to your diet.
Address Your Dry Mouth
If your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva, you may have a condition called dry mouth. Saliva is crucial in helping to rinse away bacteria from your mouth. So, it is essential for remineralization. Whether your dry mouth is the result of a health condition or because of certain medications, ask your dentist about what you can do to encourage adequate saliva production.
Use Remineralization Toothpaste
Tooth enamel cannot be replaced once it is lost, but you can use remineralization toothpaste to increase the mineral content of your existing enamel. There are a number of products on the market that can help repair weak spots on the teeth and make teeth less sensitive to hot and cold substances.
The Bottom Line on How to Strengthen Enamel
Although some mineral loss is inevitable over the years, you can create habits that help to strengthen enamel. Take the steps mentioned here to maintain good oral health for years to come. If you’re due for a checkup, book an appointment with us today or call us at 888-329-8111.
Colgate – What Is Tooth Enamel
American Dental Association (ADA) – Toothpastes