Preventing Enamel Erosion in Kids

child with toothache

Have you ever heard about enamel? Surprisingly, the enamel is the “strongest” composite in the human body and performs a crucial dental role that affects a human’s quality of life. If you haven’t heard about enamel, here are some interesting facts.

“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.”

Enamel is the teeth’s outer layer that helps us chew, bit, and break food. In addition, the enamel is responsible for getting food triturated, aiding digestion and further nutrient absorption by the human body.

Consequentially, enamel’s main characteristic is its strength. Some atomic level studies reveal that human enamel is much more chemically complex than we thought.

    Using scanning transmission electron microscopy [STEM], scientists discovered enamels structure with tightly bunched oblong crystals a thousand times smaller than human hair.

    Enamel’s composition contains hydroxylapatite from calcium and phosphate also magnesium concentrated in two distinct layers in the core and a central region rich in sodium, fluorine, and carbonate.

    To get an idea of enamel’s importance and level of hardness, in physics, the Mohs scale of mineral hardness determines its resistance. For example, Enamels Mohs resistance is 5 on a 1 to 10 scale, comparable to steel.

    This article encompasses several enamel-related topics, especially in kids. First, we define the foods that erode enamel. Then we will discuss several facts to prevent enamel erosion, from using the wrong toothbrush, Acid Reflux, Dry Mouth, to Tooth Grinding. Finally, we will review Enamel Hypoplasia, named Turner’s Tooth, and how it affects kids.

    What Foods and Drinks Cause Tooth Decay and Enamel Wear?

    Some foods significantly impact enamel erosion and the consequential development of cavities and other oral diseases. However, food is not the only factor for enamel erosion. Eating intervals and poor oral hygiene habits are also determinant factors such as tooth brushing and using dental floss.

    Some foods contain carbohydrates and sugars that stay in the form of residues and debris in your mouth. Bacteria are everywhere, even in your mouth, and they feed on these residues producing acids that are enamel’s number one enemy.

    Some of the foods that contribute to enamel erosion are:

    Sugary Foods

    • cakes or pastries
    • cookies
    • candies

    Girl eating sweets

    Savory Salty Foods

    • popcorn
    • hamburgers
    • pizza

    Starchy Foods

    • bread
    • chips
    • crackers

    Sugary Drinks

    However, the most damaging products for your teeth’s enamel are “sodas.” This is because carbonated drinks contain sugar, a significant player in bacteria growth.

    Acidic Drinks and Foods

    However, soda’s main harmful components are “acids, ” which shred the minerals that conform to the enamel’s structure. Actually, the most dangerous of all sodas are clear, citrus-flavored carbonated beverages.

    Citrus-flavored sodas have a higher impact on enamel than other carbonated refreshment drinks. Consequently, we strongly advise our patients to stay away from these drinks.

    Energy Drinks and Sports Drinks

    Now that we are into detailing the worst drinks and foods for enamel, the second position on this podium is for sports drinks. Similarly, sports drinks have high amounts of sugar and acids, close to those of clear, citrus-flavored carbonated beverages.

    Energy drinks are incredibly high in sugar. Sometimes, these drinks also include the same acids that erode enamel. So, in summarizing, we strongly recommend replacing flavor-added beverages with water or brushing your teeth after consuming them.

    Using the Wrong Toothbrush

    If you think brushing is better with a stiff bristle toothbrush and applying force will help eliminate more and more food residues and debris, then think twice. Aside from the fact enamel is an exceptionally strong minerally composed tissue, bristle friction can damage enamel.

    Consequently, to protect your teeth’s enamel, we recommend you use a soft bristle toothbrush and apply gentle force to brush your teeth, trying to get to every possible space of your mouth.

    Father teaching kid about toothbrushing

    Acid Reflux

    Acid reflux causes irritation and pain in the esophagus. This situation can have a secondary effect on people’s oral health. Teeth are affected due to the erosion and wear of their natural enamel affecting their PH. In short, the mouth has a lower PH than the stomach.

    Also, in dental terms, dental erosion is a description of a physical result in which dental tissue is unrelated to stomach acids producing abnormal wearing. Gastric acid reflux, from vomiting or regurgitation, is a relevant factor in the cause of dental erosion.

    Dry Mouth

    There are several serious medical conditions related to xerostomia (dry mouth). The importance of saliva is that it helps perform functions of chewing, speaking, swallowing, regulating oral PH, preventing inflammation of soft tissues, and dental demineralization.

    Saliva provides balance to the remineralization favored by the presence of fluoride. Therefore, dry mouth is the reduced or absence of saliva. This disorder can cause discomfort contributing to the development of cavities and tooth enamel wear.

    A dry mouth can lead to cavities and canker sores over many years. Saliva is an essential protective fluid as it is a defense mechanism that helps break down food and prevent cavities and periodontal disease.

    Tooth Grinding

    Teeth grinding or bruxism initially wears down the enamel of the teeth. The wear pattern is more frequent in the anterior (front) teeth. It is possible that the diet influences dental wear and bruxism. Applying force on the teeth can cause dental wear, toothache, hyperactivity, and muscular hypertrophy.

    Dental wear shows us the force of contact between the teeth, but it is not a definitive diagnostic test of the presence of bruxism. Consequently, we strongly recommend our patients visit a specialist to get a customized treatment for bruxism in kids.

    Enamel Hypoplasia (Turner’s Tooth)

    So far, we have a clear idea of what enamel is and its importance in protecting teeth. However, there is a condition named Enamel Hypoplasia which is a decreased enamel thickness.

    The problems associated with Enamel Hypoplasia are:

    • increased sensitivity in a tooth;
    • tooth susceptibility to decay and;
    • produces an unesthetic appearance.

    Enamel Hypoplasia usually affects permanent teeth with surface yellowish spot marks and hole-like patterns, affecting also entire parts of a tooth that visibly lack enamel.

    Consequences of Untreated Enamel Hypoplasia and its developmental complications include:

    • infection and pain;
    • speaking problems;
    • eventual tooth loss in childhood;
    • bite and masticatory complications and;
    • orthodontic tooth overcrowding.

    Timely treatment for your child is urgent for Enamel Hypoplasia, which can manifest in any of the following forms:

    • enamel discoloration;
    • inability to remain united on a tooth;
    • enamel missing and;
    • all of the above in a single tooth.

    To foresee treatment for your child, it is critical to connect the dots as possible. This means knowing beforehand what could be causing Enamel Hypoplasia in your child. Primarily, a hereditary factor might be causing Enamel Hypoplasia.

    “Environmental causes” are set apart from the genetic factor. Environmental causes are produced as a consequence of events as follows:

    Environmental Events for Enamel Hypoplasia

    Infections

    They occur during pregnancy. Infections can be of two types 1) Viral and; 2) bacterial. They include the diagnosis of diseases like chickenpox or measles. In addition, high fevers might trigger the development of Enamel Hypoplasia.

    Trauma

    A traumatic event or accident pushes injured teeth against the developing teeth obstructing enamel formation.

    Development Incidence Causes for Enamel Hypoplasia

    • premature birth and;
    • malnutrition.

    Early detection and treatment for Enamel Hypoplasia are crucial. But, first, you need to distinguish if there are cases of this condition in your family so that you can start early interceptive care on your child.

    However, in some circumstances, you can notice lines on your kid’s tooth’s surface, discoloration, or a brown-like discoloration in the entire tooth. Any of the factors mentioned above require immediate action and a visit to a pediatric dentist.

    The diagnosis of Enamel Hypoplasia helps a pediatric dentist determine the severity and the actions to alleviate the condition. For instance, mild cases might require maintenance and constant follow-ups.

    However, some cases require cementing a tooth-colored resin on the surface of the affected tooth. Sometimes, a pediatric dentist might apply fluoride to alleviate sensitiveness and prevent further demineralization of the tooth.

    In this article, we have addressed the foods that can affect enamel. Luckily, there are also foods you can give your child to prevent enamel wear. For example, you can combine green leafy vegetables and dairy products with A and D vitamin supplements.

    A beautiful and healthy smile also requires parental guidance on proper oral hygiene techniques and visiting Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry, a fun place for your kids to have a healthy smile.

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