Tooth enamel is the clear outer layer that covers the tooth and protects the more sensitive layer underneath called dentin. Enamel’s main function is to protect the teeth from daily use, which includes biting, crunching, chewing, and grinding. Enamel also protects the teeth from uncomfortable temperatures and hazardous chemicals.
Even though enamel is considered the hardest tissue in the human body, once it’s damaged, it cannot regenerate new cells. Understanding how enamel erosion occurs will help individuals practice preventative care methods to keep their enamel strong for a lifetime.
Enamel usually wears away when it’s constantly under attack by acid, which forms from the bacteria in the mouth and the sugar from food and drinks. Whenever acid attacks the teeth, the enamel temporarily softens and loses some mineral content. Fortunately, saliva eventually cancels out the acid and restores the mouth’s normal pH balance. However, if acid attacks are constantly occurring, the mouth is unable to repair itself, which means enamel will eventually wear away permanently.
Enamel erosion can also result from dry mouth, acid reflux disease, gastrointestinal complications, bulimia, and certain medications.
One of the best ways to prevent enamel erosion is to avoid acidic foods and drinks. The level of acidic content in consumable products is measured by pH value, and any food or drink that has a value lower than 5.5 is harmful to the teeth. Sodas, fruit drinks, sports drinks, and other carbonated drinks should not be consumed regularly. If they are consumed, it should only be during meal times. The best liquid to consume for the teeth would be water. Milk is also acceptable because it helps cancel out the acid in the mouth.
Another way to prevent enamel erosion is to chew sugar-free gum after consuming acidic foods or drinks. The constant chewing will help the mouth produce more saliva to restore the normal pH balance. Eating cheese or drinking milk after consuming acidic drinks will help restore the mouth as well. If eating or consuming dairy is not an option, it’s best to wait at least one hour before brushing the teeth after consuming acidic drinks. Waiting an hour gives the mouth an opportunity to rebuild its mineral content.
Maintaining annual dental checkups is an excellent preventative care method that will either prevent the erosion from happening or prevent the erosion from worsening.
At McBride Dental, we offer preventative care services to help our patients reduce their chances of experiencing enamel erosion. For those already experiencing some erosion, our services will help prevent the erosion from worsening. Some of our services include in-depth oral examinations, deep cleanings, dental sealants, and X-rays. We also offer treatment services for those suffering from other oral issues, such as gum disease, cavities, tooth loss, tooth misalignment, and more. If you are in the San Diego area and would like to schedule an appointment with us, call our office today at (760) 471-1003. We are eager to help you maintain the smile of your dreams.