Enamel loss, like other medical conditions, may not initially show any symptoms until it gets worse. It is a condition that makes patients realize how oral care goes beyond the brushing and flossing routine. Your diet plays a big part not only in your overall health but also in your oral health.
If you are a chronic snacker or in love with citrus juices, this post can encourage you to prevent enamel loss before any complications occur.
What is enamel loss or enamel erosion?
Enamel erosion or enamel loss is the wear and tear of your tooth enamel due to the strong acids in your food, bacteria in plaque, or bodily fluids. Our tooth enamel is tough enough to endure the forces involved with biting or grinding our food. However, its weakness lies with acids.
The acids produced by decay-causing bacteria in your mouth are also one of the causes of enamel erosion. As they consume the sugar and starch from food debris, bacteria release damaging acids that cause demineralization. Enamel damage or the white spot on your tooth is already the first stage of tooth decay.
The effects of acids on every patient may vary depending on the extent of the damage to their teeth. If you notice or experience any of the following symptoms, visit your dentist immediately.
- Tooth sensitivity with hot or cold temperatures
- Tooth discoloration or turning from translucent to clear
- Cups on the surfaces of the tooth
- A chipped or cracked tooth (brittle tooth)
Causes of enamel loss and damage
Enamel loss can happen due to poor dental habits, bacterial growth, acidic food and beverages, and medical conditions. These include:
- Poor oral hygiene: Plaque buildup between your teeth and gum line contains loads of bacteria that release damaging acids.
- Citrus fruits and juices: The citric acid found in citrus fruits is too strong for your tooth enamel and can wear it out over time.
- Starchy foods, sweets, and sour candies: Sugar found in sweets and starchy foods encourage plaque buildup. Sour candies also contain acids that can wear down your tooth enamel.
- Soda: Phosphoric acid and sugar in sodas can both increase bacterial growth and demineralize your enamel.
- Medical conditions: Acid reflux or GERD can cause strong gastric acids to reach the mouth and wear down your enamel.
- Dry mouth: The lack of saliva reduces the protective barrier that separates your tooth from acid attacks.
- Medications: Antihistamines, antidepressants, and diuretics can cause dry mouth, making your teeth vulnerable to acid attacks.
- Bruxism or teeth grinding: The excess pressure placed on your teeth when you have bruxism can cause enamel erosion on the chewing surfaces of your teeth.
- Eating disorders: Bulimia can also bring stomach acids to your mouth and damage your enamel.
Effects of enamel loss on your oral health
Tooth enamel is the hard protective layer of your teeth that insulates the tooth nerves from hot and cold temperatures. It is the strongest tissue in the human body that can handle the biting force whenever we chew our food. It also keeps our teeth safe from bacteria and acid attacks.
Once the tooth enamel gets damaged due to enamel erosion, its effects will impact your oral health through the following conditions:
- Extreme tooth sensitivity
- Susceptibility to tooth decay
- Tooth fracture
- Chipped tooth
- Stained teeth
- Remineralizing the enamel: Your dentist may prescribe a desensitizing toothpaste that can aid your tooth sensitivity and replenish the lost minerals.
- Dental bonding: Tooth-colored resin is bonded on the teeth to repair damaged enamel and hide tooth stains.
- Veneers: Thin porcelain veneers are placed on your teeth to replace your damaged enamel. They are an all-in-one solution that can address enamel erosion, cover tooth discoloration, and improve the shape of your teeth.
- Dental crowns: A tooth-shaped cap is placed over your severely damaged tooth to prevent further damage.
Can tooth enamel repair itself?
Our tooth enamel, unlike other parts, doesn’t have a living tissue to repair itself. It is also the reason why tooth decay is irreversible once it gets through the tooth enamel. So, it is best to prevent enamel erosion before it leads to irreversible dental conditions.
How to prevent enamel loss and keep your teeth healthy
Preventing any damage to your teeth and gums keeps you safe from tooth pain, protects you from complicated dental conditions like gum disease, and saves you from expensive dental costs.
Here are some tips to prevent tooth enamel loss and its complications:
Use a straw when drinking acidic drinks like soda and citrus juices
Citrus fruits and juices contain a lot of vitamins and minerals that are good for your body. To prevent damaging your tooth enamel, you can use a straw in drinking fruit juices. You can also rinse your mouth with water as soon as you finish eating citrus fruits.
Consume more milk and cheese
Milk and cheese are rich in calcium that helps remineralize your teeth and prevent tooth sensitivity. The good thing about cheese is it is easy to blend in any of your dishes. Milk also makes a good ingredient for any foods and drinks like a healthy breakfast bowl.
Avoid or reduce snacking between meals
Snacking can lead to enamel erosion and tooth decay, especially if you have poor oral hygiene. If you’re a chronic snacker, you can start by reducing your snacking time. Try to eliminate snacking gradually and eat fiber-rich and well-balanced meals so you won’t get hungry between meals. Chew sugar-free gum or drink more water to keep yourself feeling full and curb your snacking habit.
Drink more water
Water helps flush out food debris and acids in your mouth. It also keeps you hydrated and encourages healthy saliva production. Your body will also thank you for drinking at least eight glasses of water every day.
Choose a fluoride toothpaste over a whitening toothpaste
Fluoride toothpaste can help remineralize your teeth from acid damage. It also breaks down and removes acids stuck on our teeth. Whitening toothpaste may contain ingredients that can wear away the enamel. Ask your dentist for better toothpaste options for your condition.
Consult your doctor for possible medical conditions such as alcoholism, bulimia, or GERD
If you are experiencing symptoms related to GERD and suffering from bulimia or alcoholism, it’s best to consult your doctor immediately. Early treatment of these conditions can help reduce the complications and save your teeth from irreversible damages.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
Hard-bristled brushes and aggressive brushing can cause abrasions on the surface of your tooth enamel. Opt for a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles so you can brush your teeth without damaging your tooth enamel.