When you look in the mirror and smile, what do you see? Beauty? Confidence? At the very least, you can see your enamel. Your enamel is the whitish outer layer of your teeth. Enamel is incredibly important for your smile.
Your teeth are made of three different layers: the enamel, the dentin, and the pulp. The pulp houses the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues of your tooth. Dentin connects the enamel to the pulp. The enamel protects the delicate inner layers from damage and bacteria. It is your teeth’s natural defense mechanism.
Your enamel is strong and durable. In fact, it is the strongest tissue in your body! However, it is not invincible. Chemicals and physical wear can slowly damage your enamel. Dentists refer to this process as enamel erosion. Once the enamel is gone, it cannot grow back. Therefore, it is essential to know what causes enamel erosion.
Sugary or Acidic Foods and Drinks
Some of the biggest contributors to enamel erosion are the foods and drinks that we consume. Sugar and acids are directly responsible for eroding the enamel. With sugar, it is the reaction that happens with the bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria feed on the sugar and turn it into acid. It is the acid that dissolves the enamel, destroying it in the process.
It would be best to minimize your consumption of foods like candy and ice cream or even starchy foods like white bread. Additionally, foods that contain acids or excess vitamin C can be problematic. Many of the fruit drinks, juices, and sodas that we drink contain high levels of sugar and acid.
You may not realize it, but the environment in your mouth is vital to your oral health. The bacteria in your mouth thrive in a dry environment. So, if your mouth is too dry, the bacteria will multiply. The more bacteria you have in your mouth, the more likely you will develop tooth decay or gum disease. Therefore, you should stay hydrated and drink more water. If you still find yourself with a dry mouth, you should talk to your dentist about treatment options.
Teeth grinding is a physical method of erosion. When you grind or clench your teeth, you physically wear down your enamel. Your enamel is strong; however, it cannot withstand the excess stress. People who grind their teeth are susceptible to chipped or broken teeth, tooth decay, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD), or missing teeth. If you grind your teeth, you should discuss treatment options with your dentist. They will likely recommend custom mouthguards to protect your teeth.
If you have chronic acid reflux, it can damage your enamel. With acid reflux, the acid in your stomach actually backs up through your esophagus, causing damage to the sensitive lining. Additionally, the acid will get in your mouth and chemically erode your enamel. You will need to seek treatment from both your dentist and a primary physician.