Tooth enamel is the hard outer layer of your teeth that helps to protect the soft inner tissue, called the pulp, against tooth decay and infection. Even though it is stronger than bone, enamel can wear down over time and leave your teeth vulnerable to damage. You cannot rebuild tooth enamel once it is gone, so protecting it is an essential part of your overall dental health.
The following four tips will help you protect your tooth enamel and avoid symptoms such as pain, sensitivity, and discoloration, as well as long-term dental issues:
1. Avoid sugary, acidic foods and drinks.
Foods and beverages that are very acidic or high in sugar allow bacteria to grow in your mouth and break down your enamel, so it is best to limit your consumption. Candy, pastries, soft drinks, sports drinks, and drinking excessive alcohol can all contribute to dental erosion. Try to enjoy sugary treats in moderation, and if you drink beverages that can harm your tooth enamel, drink them through a straw to minimize their contact with your teeth.
2. Eat plenty of fruits, veggies, and dairy products.
Foods like fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber help increase your saliva flow. This not only helps protect your tooth enamel against the harmful effects of acid but also restores trace minerals to your teeth. In addition, dairy foods like milk and cheese are good sources of calcium, which helps strengthen tooth enamel. If you aren’t able to eat dairy, add foods that are fortified with calcium, such as certain ready-to-eat cereals, to your diet.
3. Don’t overbrush.
It is vital to brush your teeth at least twice a day, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that brushing very vigorously is better for your teeth. If you brush too hard, you can wear away some of your tooth enamel. Use a soft toothbrush to make short, gentle strokes as you brush for two minutes each time. If you’re applying pressure like you’re polishing an eggshell, you’re doing it right.
4. Visit your dentist regularly.
Regular dental visits allow your dentist to detect signs of tooth enamel erosion when it’s still in its early stages. They can then recommend ways to reduce erosion, such as having a fluoride varnish applied to your teeth or using a prescription toothpaste that contains more fluoride. Veneers, which are thin shells applied to the front side of your teeth, can also be used to protect vulnerable teeth in more advanced cases of erosion.
Your tooth enamel helps protect your teeth from damage, but it can erode and become thinner over time. This leaves your teeth more vulnerable to damage, decay, or infection. Fortunately, you can reduce the risk of damage to your enamel as well as your teeth by following the simple steps outlined above.