Our bodies have a miraculous way of keeping us healthy and protecting internal systems. Tooth enamel, for example, is designed to protect our teeth from bacteria and plaque that forms from food and beverage residue. Comprised of calcium, phosphate, bone, and dentin, tooth enamel is one of the strongest substances in our body. Without it, our teeth would rot and be subject to daily wear and tear that comes from tasks as simple as chewing food.
Unfortunately, like all parts of our body, tooth enamel is not invincible. Through harmful daily habits, it is possible to cause your tooth enamel to erode, which then leads to cavities and decay. Since tooth enamel cannot regenerate once it is completely eroded, it is important to know how to prevent erosion and protect your enamel.
What causes enamel erosion?
Your enamel erodes because it has been exposed to too much acidity. Most people experience acidic pH levels in their mouths due to their dietary habits. All the sugar, starches, and processed foods many of us eat today cause acid buildup and lead to enamel erosion. This usually occurs because an acidic mouth kills good bacteria that protect your teeth while cultivating an ideal environment for harmful bacteria to grow. These harmful bacteria feed off residue on the teeth and release even more acid when it excretes waste.
Sometimes, however, acid erosion occurs because of medical conditions. For example, if you suffer from acid reflux disease, then the acid from your stomach can cause your enamel to erode because it’s constantly making its way up your esophagus and into your mouth. Other conditions that cause acid erosion include chronic dry mouth and complications from diabetes.
How do I know if my enamel is eroding?
The primary symptom of enamel erosion is sensitive teeth. If you notice your teeth hurt when exposed to hot or cold temperatures, then you are experiencing sensitivity in your teeth. Other symptoms of enamel erosion include discoloration—basically yellowing in your teeth—and shiny white spots. If you’re unsure of whether or not you are experiencing signs of enamel erosion, then you can always talk to your dentist.
How can I prevent enamel erosion?
- Cut back on the soft drinks—many oral health professionals believe the consumption of sugary soft drinks is the leading cause of acid erosion. This is because soft drinks are typically consumed so regularly and contain high amounts of sugar.
- Drink lots of water—water helps wash out acidic residue, leaving your mouth cleaner and less exposed to harmful bacteria.
- Wait to brush—instead of brushing your teeth immediately after a meal, wait at least 30 minutes.
- Eat foods rich in calcium—calcium helps balance out your mouth’s pH levels and helps remineralize your enamel.
- Use a daily alkaline mouthwash to balance your mouth’s pH and protect your tooth enamel. A portable alkaline tooth tablet that can be used on the Go, anywhere, anytime, is preferable.