Dental tips provided by Burnaby Dentists at North Burnaby Dental Group.
The latest news in oral care seems to be all about enamel protection, with countless advertisements on television and in magazines touting toothpastes and products that apparently help to protect your enamel. In reality, just how concerned should you be with enamel erosion, and what can you do to prevent it?
Tooth enamel is the thin outer covering of the tooth that helps protect your teeth from daily use. Enamel also insulates the teeth from potentially painful temperatures and chemicals. Although enamel is a hard protector of teeth — it is said to be even harder than bone — it can chip, crack, and erode. When this happens, unfortunately the damage is done forever. Unlike a broken bone that the body is able to repair in time, enamel has no living cells, therefore the body is not able to undo the damage. Prevention then, is key, as when enamel erodes, the tooth becomes more susceptible to cavities or tooth decay.
Erosion happens when acids wear away the enamel on teeth. Contributors to this include excessive soft drink consumption, as these contain high levels of phosphoric and citric acids; consumption of fruit-based drinks and juices (shockingly some of the acids found in what we might consider to be “healthy” beverage choices are more erosive than even battery acid); a diet high in starches or sugars; acid reflux disease and bulimia; and environmental factors such as friction, wear and tear, stress, and corrosion.
Signs of weak enamel include a glassy appearance at the tips, broken corners, discolouration, or sensations of pain when consuming hot or cold food and drinks.
Treatment of tooth enamel loss depends on the extent of the problem. Sometimes tooth bonding is used to protect the tooth and increase cosmetic appearance. If the enamel loss is significant, the dentist may recommend covering the tooth with a crown in order to protect the tooth from further decay. Before it gets to that point though, why not implement the following tips?
– To prevent enamel loss and keep teeth healthy, be sure to brush and floss your teeth daily, preferably two to three times throughout the day.
– Make sure that you are using a flouride-containing toothpaste, as flouride helps to strengthen teeth. Talk to your dentist about daily fluoride treatments if you have a history of cavities. In addition, ask your dentist if sealants may be helpful in preventing enamel erosion and tooth decay.
– See your dentist every six months for regular checkups and cleaning.
– Where ever possible, eliminate or cut back on highly acidic foods and drinks such as carbonated sodas, lemons, and other citrus fruits and juices. Rinse your mouth immediately with water after eating acidic foods or drinking acidic drinks.
– Use a straw when you drink acidic drinks. The straw pulls the liquid to the back of your mouth, avoiding contact with your teeth.
– Pay attention to your snacking habits. Snacking throughout the day increases the chance of tooth decay, as the mouth remains acidic for a few hours after eating foods that are high in sugar and starches. Try to avoid snacking unless you’re able to rinse your mouth thoroughly or brush your teeth.
– Chewing sugar-free gum between meals boosts saliva production up to 10 times the normal flow. Saliva helps strengthen teeth with important minerals. Specifically, sugar-free gum containing xylitol has been shown to reduce acids from beverages and foods.
Yes, while enamel erosion is a definite concern, taking the above steps can help to lessen its effects. If you have other questions or concerns about enamel erosion, please do not hesitate to speak to any one of the dentists at North Burnaby Dental Group.
Additional articles are available from Burnaby Dentists at North Burnaby Dental Group.