How to Protect Tooth Enamel

How to Protect Tooth Enamel

by Alex Hirsch (SU)

The enamel on your teeth is a protective layer against decay. Enamel is the first line of defense against deterioration. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the entire body – and though it's stronger than bone, it's still vulnerable to acids that are contained in the foods you eat, especially sugars and starches.

Once enamel is gone, it can’t be replaced, so learn all you can about how to protect your enamel to preserve it for a long time to come. 

Causes of Enamel Loss

First, let's look at the main causes of enamel loss so you know how to prevent it.

Sweets

Realize that consuming an exorbitant amount of sweets is bad for your teeth, particularly the enamel protecting your teeth from decay. Bacteria can form a presence in your mouth as sugar and acids from foods and beverages remain on your teeth. Candy that is sour rather than sweet is just as dangerous to tooth enamel due to its acidity.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth contributes to the loss of enamel, since saliva in your mouth decreases bacteria by washing it away, along with leftover food particles.

Stomach Acids

It’s already been established that acids from food attack enamel, but stomach acids that are brought up into the mouth as a result of acid reflux can also be a factor. Heartburn and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) put your tooth enamel at risk.

Teeth Grinding

Bruxism, also known as grinding your teeth, is really bad for enamel, and will break it down over time. Your dentist may suggest wearing a mouth guard, especially at night during sleep hours, when you are unaware that grinding is taking place.

Binging on Food or Alcohol

Conditions such as bulimia or alcoholism can also damage tooth enamel. See a health professional regarding binge drinking or bulimia. Regurgitation, as a result of these conditions, breaks down enamel on your teeth because it exposes your mouth to stomach acids or sugars that shouldn't be there. Bulimia and excessive use of alcohol will also seriously compromise your health in many ways. 

Medication

Medication can be harsh on enamel, since many drugs and supplements are acidic. For example, Vitamin C and aspirin are acidic. Take only the amount that is recommended by your physician, and drink plenty of water. 

Signs and Symptoms of Enamel Loss

As your tooth enamel is compromised, hot and cold foods may cause sensitivity,  discomfort, or pain. Other symptoms that are related to enamel decay include a change in the tooth’s appearance. The tooth may appear yellow or might even look extremely shiny. An early sign of tooth enamel being affected is when rough edges or indentations appear on the tooth. 

Prevention Steps

Speak with your dentist if you suspect that your tooth enamel is being compromised. The dentist will assess your enamel's condition and devise a treatment plan to prevent enamel breakdown. In the meantime, you can take these steps:

1.     Cut down the number of sugary and acidic foods and beverages that you consume – and rinse thoroughly following consumption with plain water.

2.     Brush and floss your teeth regularly to fight acid-loving bacteria.

3.     Get a regular dental cleaning from your dental office.

4.     Drink through a straw to reduce the amount of sugar or acid left on your teeth following certain drinks.

5.     To eliminate acids left over from a meal, drink a glass of milk or eat a piece of cheese. The dairy products neutralize the acidity.

6.     Chew sugar-free gum to lower the amount of acid in your mouth, or chew xylitol gum to treat dry mouth.

7.     Hydrate throughout the day with water to help prevent dry mouth. 

8.     Don't brush your teeth too vigorously, and consult your dentist or hygienist about correct brushing. Consider using an extra-soft toothbrush or one that is electric.

Expert Dentistry in St. Paul

If you need guidance on the proper care of your teeth, have any specific dental concerns like enamel loss, or simply need a checkup, Hagerman Dental Care is here to help.

Call us at (651) 646-2392, or use our online form to request an appointment. Dr. Steven R. Hagerman will examine your teeth and address any issues to help improve your oral health.