You wouldn’t think the toughest substance in your body would be prone to decay, but your tooth enamel is constantly grappling with the things you eat and drink. Despite being harder than bone, enamel can become weaker depending on how you treat it.
Although tooth enamel cannot be restored, certain products can actually repair small lesions that weaken your enamel, helping to ensure that your teeth can do their job in protecting your oral health.
Tooth Enamel Erosion
The things you eat and drink can have an effect on enamel strength, but it’s not the only culprit of weakened teeth. Acidic foods and caffeinated beverages do damage, but so does teeth grinding at night (called bruxism) and certain medications you may be taking.
Luckily, enamel erosion is easy to identify. Teeth usually become discoloured, sensitive when consuming hot or cold foods and higher chances for chipping or breakage. Enamel may be the strongest substance in the body, but once it begins to erode and decay, it can cause other problems as a result of these symptoms. It’s best to address enamel erosion as soon as you notice that your teeth don’t look or feel quite right.
Building It Back
Enamel is similar to bone in that once it’s gone, this lost portion can’t be retrieved. Because it’s impossible for your body to make new enamel, your goal should be to strengthen and repair the enamel you have. This can be done through a process called “remineralization.” By using products that contain fluoride and calcium, you can actually zero in on weak spots to strengthen existing enamel before it wears away for good. You can even fortify areas where the enamel is already beginning to erode.
Fluoride works as a protective ingredient that serves as a barrier between the foods and drinks you consume and your enamel – helping to keep it strong despite the more abrasive items in your diet.
Can weakened tooth enamel be repaired? Yes, as long as the erosion hasn’t caused it to disappear entirely. But keeping tooth enamel healthy is most effective when done through prevention. Using an enamel-strengthening toothpaste is a great first step, but you can also change some damaging behaviours to do your teeth a lasting favour. If bruxism is a problem, talk to your dentist about receiving a mouth guard to avoid enamel erosion as you sleep. You can also avoid acidic foods, or opt to drink soda or juice through a straw so it avoids your teeth. If you do indulge in sweet or acidic treats, sip water while you eat to help wash away particles that can cling to your teeth.
Lastly, keep in mind a medication you’re taking may be causing any ongoing enamel erosion (aspirin is a common issue). So, talk to your doctor. In some cases, you may be able to alter dosages or switch to similar medications. And if you must stay on a current prescription, your doctor might suggest taking a calcium supplement to help your body protect your enamel in the process.
From food to medication, to drinks and the daily grind, enamel can take a beating. But you don’t need to live with enamel erosion; the right products and care can help ensure your smile is as strong as it is healthy.