Preventing Enamel Erosion

child with toothache

Alpharetta, GA – The enamel on your teeth is the strongest substance in your body. It goes through a lot of wear and tear in the course of a day – from extremes in temperature, to the force exerted when biting down, so it has to be strong to protect your teeth. But that doesn’t mean it is impervious to damage.

“Enamel is strong, sure, but there are certainly things we can do that can weaken it,” says Alpharetta children’s dentist Dr. Nanna Ariaban.

“When that enamel begins to erode, it leaves the teeth susceptible to decay and cavities, so it’s important we know the things that can harm the enamel.” So what’s eating your enamel? Dr. Nanna explains the top things that can damage the outer layer of your teeth.

  1. 1- Soda
    Whether you drink regular soda or diet, it’s not the sugar content that is always to blame. Sodas contain acids that strip the minerals from your tooth enamel. And clear, citrus flavored carbonated beverages have been shown to eat away enamel at a higher rate than colas.
  2. 2- Sports drinks
    During physical activity, we often turn to sports drinks to stay hydrated. But not only are they high in sugar, they also contain acids that can eat away our enamel. In fact, one study that looked at the erosive effects different drinks have on our enamel found sports drinks were the worst. Energy drinks weren’t far behind. Learn more: Think Twice Before Reaching for a Sports Drink
  3. 3- Sour foods and candies
    Sour foods and candies have higher acid levels and should be avoided. Sour candies can be especially damaging because they are sucked on, leaving your teeth susceptible to the damaging effects of the acid for longer periods of time. Berries and citrus fruit also contain enamel-damaging acids.
  4. 4- Vinegar
    One study showed that teens who consume foods that contain vinegar have as much as an 85 percent increase in risk for enamel erosion. Vinegar can be found in pickles, potato chips, sauces and dressings.
  5. 5- Acid reflux disease
    Acid reflux, GERD and heartburn bring stomach acids to the mouth, where it can attack and damage your enamel. Likewise, bulimia, an eating disorder characterized by frequent purging, is extremely damaging to the enamel.
  6. 6- Dry mouth
  7. Your saliva can stave off decay by continuously washing away the damaging bacteria that can turn in to acid when mingled with the foods you eat. If you don’t produce enough saliva to naturally wash them away, your teeth are left to be attacked by the acids.
  8. 7- Using the wrong tooth brush
    You may think you need a harder bristled toothbrush and a heavy hand to adequately clean your teeth. That’s not true – gently brushing with a soft-bristled brush is actually the best way to protect your teeth.
  9. 8- Tooth grinding
    If you suffer from bruxism, you might be damaging your enamel, leaving your teeth susceptible to decay and breakage. Learn more: Does Your Kid Grind His Teeth?
  10. 9- Too many sweets
    The bacteria that live in your mouth thrive on sugar, so the more you introduce, the more acid that is produced that can attack your teeth.

So how can you tell if you’ve damaged or weakened your tooth enamel?
If you experience pain when eating or drinking things that are hot, cold or sweet, it’s a sign you may have eroding enamel. Teeth that have rough edges, cracks or chips may have weakened enamel, and noticeable dents where you bite and chew are often signs.

How to protect your tooth enamel?
To protect the enamel of your teeth, avoid foods, drinks and habits that may be damaging. Brush and floss regularly, and use a fluoride toothpaste. You can also add xylitol to your diet. A natural sweetener, xylitol can be found in some toothpastes, as well as sugar-free candies and gums. It has been shown to be able to strengthen enamel and help rebuild it.

Also, maintain regular checkups with your dentist. By visiting a dentist every six months, you’ll know when there may be cause for concern and can correct issues before they become serious.

© 2019 Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry.  Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry in Alpharetta, GA, is credited as sole source. 

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