What is Tooth Enamel and What Causes Enamel Loss

Author: Dr. Reem Kidess | Posted on with 0 comments

What is Tooth Enamel?

Tooth enamel is the outer layer of your tooth and is the hardest substance found in the body; even harder than bones. Its purpose is to protect your teeth from damage while eating. It also insulates the nerves beneath your teeth to protect it from exposure to hot, cold, or sugary substances. It’s important that you take steps to protect your tooth enamel from excessive wear and breakage. Here is some information on what causes tooth enamel loss.

To answer the question of “What is tooth enamel,” think of it as the rocky beach. The rocks are the tooth enamel, and the waves are the liquids and foods that touch our teeth.

What Causes Enamel Loss?

From the beach and rock example above, you can see enamel loss as the waves impact the rock, it always takes away some sand with it. So, what causes enamel loss is the acidity and shock that comes from certain foods and drinks.

Just like regular acid, the acid in the things we eat and drink erode the enamel on our teeth. When things are also too cold or too hot, it shocks our teeth as well. This can lead to the sensitivity that you feel and fear when eating certain foods.

Here are some of the most common drinks and foods that cause tooth enamel loss:

Potato Chips. They may satisfy your salty craving, but this type of snack can cause a lot of issues in your mouth. When you chew chips, they eventually break down into smaller pieces that can get stuck in between the spaces of the teeth. They are made of carbohydrates which are converted to simple sugars by your saliva. Bacteria feed on these sugars producing acids that work to dissolve your tooth enamel.

White Wine. Don’t let its color mislead you. Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and other white wines are very acidic, and this acid will slowly damage the enamel of your teeth leaving it vulnerable to stains from other foods and sensitivity to pain. If you can’t give up drinking, pair it with cheese which helps alleviate some of the damage caused by the acids.

Ice. Ice is great for keeping your drinks cold, but many people like to chew on ice and it seems like a harmless habit, but chewing ice is dangerous to your teeth. The habit puts a lot of stress on your teeth, causing wear and can even cause a fracture.

Juices and Sodas. These drinks are highly acidic as fruits have natural acids in them, and sodas are carbonated. These are also full of sugar which stays on your teeth until you brush them. The longer sugar stays on your teeth, the process of enamel loss is occurring.

How To Help Prevent Tooth Enamel Loss

These are some of the best things you can do to prevent tooth enamel loss:

  • Restrict the amount of high-acid foods which include sugary juices and soda in your diet
  • Brush and floss frequently after every meal. If you don’t have time to brush, wash your mouth with water or rinse with a mouthwash to help get rid of the leftover food particles.
  • Wait at least 30 minutes to brush before and after you eat. The enamel becomes temporarily softened while eating and needs the time to re-harden to avoid mechanical erosion.
  • After eating and while you are waiting to brush, chewing on sugar-free gum can help build saliva which will increase the efficiency that the enamel re-hardens.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste. Mouthwashes are also available with fluoride as well.
  • Don’t miss your 6-month check-ups!

Can Tooth Enamel Be Restored?

Tooth enamel can not be completely restored once it is gone. However; if it is weakened, it can be prevented from any further loss by continuing healthy dental care practices. 

Don’t ignore the symptoms or you could end up needing more invasive oral surgeries or crowns. The good news is that with advances in sedation dentistry, even the most dreaded visit is surmountable. Dr. Kidess has helped hundreds and can help you too! Contact our office today!

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