Your teeth consist of three layers: the enamel, the dentin, and the pulp. The innermost layer is the pulp, which houses the nerves and connective tissues. The pulp keeps your tooth alive. The middle layer of your tooth is called the dentin. The dentin connects the pulp to the enamel. The enamel is the outermost layer that protects your teeth from damage.
Your enamel is a very important part of your teeth. It is your teeth’s defense against all kinds of foods, drinks, acids, and decay. Interestingly, tooth enamel is one of the hardest tissues in the human body. Yes, it is even harder than bone! While tooth enamel is extremely tough, it is still susceptible to damage and decay. Even everyday wear and tear can slowly ruin the enamel. This is called enamel erosion.
Once enamel is eroded away, you cannot regrow it. Enamel erosion is permanent. The best thing to do is try to prevent erosion in the first place.
To prevent enamel erosion, you should be aware of its causes.
One of the main causes of enamel erosion is related to your diet. In all of the foods and drinks that you consume, there are acids. As you chew and break down the food, the acids affect your enamel. Normally, your saliva will work to neutralize the effects of the acids. However, if you consume too much sugary or acidic foods or drinks, your saliva can’t neutralize it fast enough. This is where your oral health care routine comes in.
It is essential to brush and floss your teeth as recommended in order to counteract the acids from your diet. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day or after meals. Additionally, flossing your teeth daily is one way to prevent enamel erosion.
Besides your diet, there are other ways that your enamel can erode. Grinding your teeth (called bruxism) can physically wear down and erode your enamel. Some health conditions, like chronic acid reflux, can destroy your enamel because your stomach produces too much acid. Having dry mouth or not producing enough saliva can also contribute to enamel erosion. Additionally, overusing certain over-the-counter medications—aspirin or antihistamines—can affect your enamel. Finally, there are some genetic disorders that can alter your enamel—enamel hypoplasia.
Ways to Avoid Erosion
The best way to avoid enamel erosion is to have a solid oral health care routine. Brushing and flossing your teeth are essential to keeping your teeth happy and healthy. Along with brushing and flossing, you should consider adding a mouthwash that focuses on enamel care. It is best to ask your dentist for recommendations.
Changing your diet may be beneficial if you notice your enamel thinning. Reducing the amount of sugar or acids in your diet can go a long way. If you are someone who likes to eat sweets or chew gum, consider choosing a sugar-free option.
If you do notice your enamel thinning or begin to feel symptoms, talk to your dentist about your options. They may be able to provide treatments in their office. Additionally, you can look into tooth bonding.