A smile is arguably one of the most attractive physical traits. Having a perfect smile makes a long-lasting impression.
Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t have a smile they’re proud of. In fact, some people hide their teeth to feel less embarrassed.
The key to the perfect smile is healthy enamel. Enamel is the tooth’s outer layer. Its job is to protect your tooth’s crown and sensitive inner layers.
Enamel has a translucent, off-white appearance, making it relatively easy to see through. When enamel begins wearing down, it exposes the dentin, which is the layer underneath the enamel. Dentin has a yellow appearance, which is why your teeth eventually develop a yellowish hue.
Over time, your enamel experiences wear and tear from eating, drinking, and trauma. Other factors like genetics and disease also play a role in enamel health. In addition to appearing dull and unattractive, enamel erosion comes with physical side effects.
For instance, enamel erosion causes tooth sensitivity, especially to hot and cold temperatures. You’re also more likely to experience fractures and decay. Here are the common causes of enamel erosion.
Diet is the main cause of enamel erosion. Frequent consumption of acidic foods wears down your enamel. Sugary foods also break down your enamel at a rapid rate.
The purpose of your saliva is to neutralize your mouth. Saliva also has minerals that help repair your teeth. When you consume acidic foods and beverages, your saliva becomes overwhelmed, making it easier for acid to stick to the surface of your teeth.
Common acid foods include soda, candy, and any food with high sugar content. Also, eating large amounts of starchy foods like bread and pasta cause enamel erosion.
Starch breaks down into sugar. When left on your teeth, it blends with saliva and creates acid. Therefore, it’s wise to eat starchy foods in moderation.
While fruits, especially citrus fruits, are good for your overall health, it’s best to enjoy them in moderation. The acid in them breaks down enamel, especially if you don’t follow up with water. The same applies to infused water and fruit juices.
Be sure to consume produce with a high vitamin and mineral content. When you eat fruit or drink fruit juices, follow up with water or brush immediately to remove excess sugar.
Dairy items including milk and cheese also improve enamel health based on their high calcium content. Therefore, make sure you regularly follow the proper dairy consumption guidelines.
Another habit responsible for enamel erosion is tooth grinding. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is typically caused by stress and anxiety. It happens when you constantly clench and rub your teeth against each other.
Usually, tooth grinding occurs while you’re asleep, so you may not even notice you’re doing it. Bruxism is also a common symptom of sleep apnea. While you may not feel yourself grinding your teeth, common bruxism symptoms include:
- A lingering, dull headache.
- Temporomandibular joint stiffness and pain, which lead to temporomandibular disorder.
- Trouble sleeping
- Worn-down teeth with a greater chance of loss
If you notice any of the previously mentioned symptoms, visit a dentist immediately. If caught early enough, your dentist can reverse minor damage. Otherwise, you’ll need to replace your damaged teeth, which can be expensive.
Lack of Saliva
Saliva acts as your enamel’s protective barrier. The more saliva your mouth produces, it’s easier for your mouth’s pH levels to remain neutral. When left untreated, your teeth are at a higher risk of erosion.
When your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva, it becomes a breeding ground for plaque, bacteria, and acid. When these toxins stick to your teeth, it slowly breaks down your tooth enamel.
One of the first signs of dry mouth is usually discoloration. This occurs due to a large amount of and plaque food buildup. Other symptoms include gum disease, erosion, and eventually decay.
If you have dry mouth, be sure to change your oral hygiene habits. For one, brush and floss more often to get rid of excess buildup. Also, make sure you drink lots of water to increase saliva production.
If you’re constantly in dry environments, invest in a humidifier. Other solutions include chewing sugar-free gum and purchasing an over-the-counter saliva substitute. If these don’t work, speak to a dentist immediately.
Enamel erosion is a common problem, especially for people with poor oral hygiene. For others, genetics play a large role in the health and appearance of teeth. If your enamel suffers because of acidic food and beverage consumption, consider eliminating them or enjoying them in moderation. Also, make sure you drink adequate amounts of water.
It’s also important to regularly practice oral hygiene. If you’re eating acidic foods, try brushing and flossing immediately after to make it hard for plaque and bacteria to linger in your mouth and break down your enamel. If you’re unable to immediately brush or floss, make sure to carry around mouth wash or water and rinse until you can brush.
Sometimes, enamel erosion occurs because of bruxism or dry mouth. If you have dry mouth, try saliva-producing solutions like chewing sugar-free gum, drinking more water, or over-the-counter saliva alternatives. For bruxism relief, seek professional help as soon as you begin seeing symptoms.
Eventually, you’re bound to experience wear and tear, especially as you age. Even if you regularly practice oral hygiene, you’re likely to experience damage from trauma caused by chewing. The key is minimizing the amount of trauma to your enamel before it causes decay.
If your teeth have already begun eroding and you’re in the Miami or Florida area, contact Dr. John Paul Gallardo DDS for a consultation. His office provides a range of services including oral surgery, dental implants, and basic hygiene procedures. Visit their website and schedule an appointment to get the smile you’ve always dreamed of.