Tooth enamel erosion happens when acidic substances break down the outermost layer of teeth. Keeping your enamel strong is important for a healthy smile. Enamel helps protect your teeth when you chew and insulates the teeth from temperatures. Although enamel is a hard protector of teeth is it susceptible to erosion.
Causes of enamel erosion
Excessive consumption of soft drink, fruit drinks or a diet high in sugar and starches. Natural tooth-to-tooth friction clench or grind your teeth such as with bruxism, which often occurs involuntary during sleep, can cause the surfaces of the teeth to erode. Also, brushing teeth too hard, improper flossing, biting on hard objects, highly acidic foods, GERD, and vomiting can increase your risk of enamel erosion. Continuously low pH levels in the mouth can also cause enamel erosion. The pH measures the level of acidity on a scale of 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Any number below 7 is considered acidic, and the lower the pH level, the more acid the product contains.
How do you prevent enamel loss?
Avoid highly acidic foods and drinks from your diet such as carbonated sodas, citrus fruits and juices. Rinse your mouth immediately with clear water after eating acidic foods or drinking acidic drinks. Saliva neutralize small amounts of acid and remineralizes teeth to strengthen enamel and prevent erosion. Chewing gum to boosts your saliva production up to 10 times the normal flow to protect your enamel. Drink more water throughout the day if you have low saliva volume or dry mouth. Additional ways to protect teeth from enamel erosion include:
• Using a straw when you drink acidic drinks. The straw pushes the liquid to the back of your mouth, avoiding contact with your teeth.
• Monitor snacks. Snacking throughout the day increases the chance of tooth decay. The mouth is acidic for a few hours after eating foods high in sugar and starches. Avoid snacking unless you’re able to rinse your mouth and brush teeth.
• Chew sugar-free gum between meals. Be sure to select sugar-free gum with xylitol, which is shown to reduce acids in beverages and foods.
Signs of enamel erosion
• Sensitivity. Certain foods (sweets) and temperatures of foods (hot or cold) may cause a twinge of pain in the early stage of enamel erosion.
• Discoloration. As the enamel erodes it exposes the dentin making the teeth appear yellow.
• Cracks and chips. The edges of teeth become more rough, irregular, and jagged as enamel erodes.
• Cupping. Indentations appear on the surface of the teeth.
If you suffer from any one of these symptoms, see a dentist as soon as possible. The worse symptoms get, the more sensitivity you will suffer. If bruxism is a problem, talk to your dentist about receiving a mouth guard to avoid enamel erosion as you sleep. To prevent enamel loss and keep teeth healthy, be sure to brush, floss, and rinse with a fluoride and antiseptic mouthwash daily. See your dentist every six months for regular checkups and cleaning.