The thin outer covering of the tooth is known as the enamel. This tough shell is the human body’s hardest tissue, and helps preserve your teeth from the day’s use such as biting, chewing, grinding, and crunching. It also guards the teeth from possibly painful chemicals and temperatures. Despite it being the teeth’s hard protector, the enamel can still crack and chip. And unlike a broken bone that can heal over time, a damaged tooth is damaged forever.

This is because the enamel does not have any living cells, hence the body cannot restore a crack or chipping. So, what causes the enamel to lose its protective qualities?

  • Excessive consumption of soft drinks (high levels of citric and phosphorus acids)
  • Fruit juices and drinks (some acids in these drinks are more damaging than battery acid)
  • A poor, unbalanced diet (usually high in starches and sugar)
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Medications (antihistamines, aspirin)
  • Xerostomia, i.e. low salivary or dry mouth
  • Inherited conditions (genetics)
  • Environmental factors, such as wear and tear, corrosion, stress and friction
  • This eating disorder can result in frequent vomiting, which is a source of acid, that can eventually erode away the enamel
  • Plaque, when the bacteria change the leftover food starches into acids that in turn eat away into the enamel’s healthy minerals.

SIGNS OF ENAMEL EROSION:

  • Sensitivity: Certain temperatures and food may cause a pang of pain
  • Discoloration: With enamel erosion, more dentin is exposed which may make the teeth look discolored
  • Chips and Cracks: as the layer wears down, the teeth may become more jagged and rough
  • Cupping: Dents start showing on the teeth’s surface

PREVENTING ENAMEL LOSS:

Apart from following a thorough oral hygiene routine that involves regular brushing, flossing and fluoride rinse, visit your dentist twice a year for regular cleanings and checkups. Also try:

  • Eliminating sugary and acidic drinks. Rinse your mouth thoroughly after each consumption
  • Using a straw when drinking acidic drinks as it avoids your teeth and pushes the drink at the mouth’s back
  • Monitoring snacks
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Using a fluoride toothpaste

Keep your tooth enamel safe to preserve optimal dental health or else you could have to visit your dentist more often than you want to.