Enamel boasts the status of being the hardest substance in the body. This is rightfully so; it bares the burden of a lifetime of smashing and grinding food, all while protecting the sensitive internal structures of the tooth.
Tough as it is, though, enamel isn’t invincible. It can be worn down over time, causing tooth sensitivity, tooth decay, gum disease, and all kinds of other health problems. How does enamel ware down, and what can you do to prevent this? This article will cover several common habits that can damage enamel and what you can do to help preserve your pearly whites.
Sugars and Starches
Our modern diets full of sugary, starchy foods can cause more harm than just heart disease and weight gain. As it turns out, the natural bacteria found in our mouths love sugar and starch just as much as we do, and they feast on the sugars that get stuck to our teeth after eating. The by-product of their merrymaking, however, is harsh acids that are bad news for both enamel and gums.
To make matters worse, sugar isn’t the only enamel eroding ingredient we should be worried about from our beverages. Several common drinks like sodas, fruit juices, and wine contain harsh acids that can eat away at enamel in their own right. This just becomes a double dose of concern once we realize that most of these acidic drinks also contain a great deal of sugar.
Thankfully, our mouths have a bit of protection against all of this in the form of saliva, which can wash acids of of our teeth and help put a bit of a barrier around our precious enamel. Unfortunately for some people, health conditions or medicine side effects can cause an excessively dry mouth that only makes acids stick around on the surface of their teeth longer, allowing more time for enamel to break down.
If acids are tooth enamel’s natural enemy, then stomach acid is a super villain. Several eating disorders and digestive problems such as bolemia and acid reflux can result in stomach acid entering the mouth, an occurrence that is one of the worst things that can happen to enamel. Stomach acid eats away at teeth very quickly, so any condition that causes frequent vomiting can be very bad for oral health.
Acid isn’t the only danger enamel can face, however. Bruxism, or grinding of the teeth, can place a lot of friction and pressure on enamel and slowly wear it down or even cause fractures. To make matters worse, bruxism is often worst when you sleep, as you have no control over it.
What You Can Do
So is there anything you can do to prevent or reverse enamel damage? Solid oral hygiene habits like brushing and flossing regularly are certainly a good starting point. You can also drink some milk after eating a particularly sugary or acidic meal; the proteins can help neutralize acids. Sugar-free gum can also accomplish this. As for bruxism, you can buy special mouth guards to protect your teeth while you sleep.
If you suffer from digestive problems that cause enamel to be damaged by stomach acid, however, you may need to see a general practitioner for help. For any other questions or concerns about your enamel, the best thing to do is to make an appointment with your local dentist. If you’re in need of a San Marcos dentist, give us a call! We even have cosmetic and restorative procedures that can rebuild damaged teeth. We’ll be glad to help you in whatever way we can!