- FLOSS Team
- Patient Resources
Tooth enamel, the strongest substance in the human body, is the protective outer layer of teeth. This semi-translucent, hard material protects your teeth’s dentin, the white part of the tooth underneath enamel. Enamel serves as a guard for your teeth when eating, drinking, biting, and chewing. If your tooth enamel becomes eroded, then teeth sensitivity can occur.
What causes erosion?
- Acidic foods. Acidic foods and drinks like fruits, juices, soft drinks and others slowly erode enamel. Try to minimize their effects by cutting back on these foods and drinks, or by rinsing your mouth with clean water after you eat or drink them. Also, drinking acidic drinks through a straw helps bypass your teeth, which in turn helps save your enamel. Contrary to what you might think, don’t brush immediately after eating acidic foods. Brushing while your enamel is already softened can actually cause further damage.
- Acid reflux or heartburn. These medical conditions bring acids from your stomach into your mouth, which then eat away at your enamel. Ask your physician about treatment, and be sure to mention it to your dentist as well. Your dentist may be able to provide you with some additional instructions to help you avoid erosion.
- Eating disorders. Bulimia, an eating disorder characterized by frequent binging and purging, can cause serious tooth enamel erosion problems. Any time you vomit, you are exposing your teeth directly to your stomach’s acids, which tear away at enamel.
- Alcoholism or binge drinking. Similar to the effects of bulimia, frequent vomiting (from drinking to excess) will wear away your teeth’s enamel.
- Vitamins. Certain drugs and vitamins, such as aspirin and Vitamin C, contain highly acidic ingredients. Just like acidic foods, these erode your teeth’s enamel.
- Hard brushing. Brushing your teeth harder doesn’t mean you’re getting them cleaner. Brushing hard can actually tear way at the enamel. Try using a toothbrush with soft bristles, and focus on brushing longer and more thoroughly, rather than harder and faster. (To learn more about selecting a good toothbrush, read our earlier post about toothbrushes. ) Also, try using a fluoride toothpaste to help strengthen your teeth.
- Dry mouth. Saliva is a natural way your body washes away bacteria in your mouth. If your mouth is dry, bacteria have more time to grow. Increase your water intake during the day to increase your saliva production. It’s also a good idea to rinse your mouth thoroughly with clean water after eating or drinking, especially when you can’t brush.
For more information about keeping your teeth healthy, or to schedule your next appointment, contact Floss Dental.