Each of your teeth are coated in a fine layer of dental enamel, giving teeth their characteristic shiny, white appearance. Composed of hydroxyapatite, dental enamel is the hardest biological material that exists, ranking higher than steel on the Mohs hardness scale.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that dental enamel is impervious to damage, and when it erodes away, it can allow darker, yellow dentin to shine through, making your smile look older. Here are three easy ways to prevent enamel erosion.
- Take It Easy on Your Toothbrush
If you think your toothbrush couldn’t possibly harm a substance harder than sheet metal, think again. While enamel is harder than steel, it is more brittle, and aggressive brushing can be enough to damage the surface.
Oftentimes, people who try to brush effectively tend to brush too aggressively, putting extra pressure on tooth enamel. Over time, they may brush grooves into the surfaces of their teeth, weakening them and making it easier for oral bacteria to compromise underlying dentin.
However, by making a few simple changes, you can prevent toothbrush abrasions. Many dentists recommend holding your toothbrush like a pencil instead of gripping it firmly like you might a cleaning tool. Also, hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle so you can alleviate pressure while removing plaque near the gumline more efficiently.
If you use a power toothbrush, remember that the device is designed to do the majority of the moving for you. Instead of moving your toothbrush back and forth across your teeth, focus on running the toothbrush in a straight line across each surface of your teeth, and avoid additional strokes to prevent abrasions.
- Add Variety to Your Diet
You might love lemon water and salad dressings packed with citrus, but your teeth might suffer the consequences of your acidic diet. Although all foods change the pH of your saliva during meals, acidic fruits, sweetened beverages, and even vegetables like tomatoes soften dental enamel faster, making it easier to unintentionally damage your teeth.
On the other hand, varying your diet and avoiding highly acidic foods helps you to maintain a healthier oral pH, so that your dental enamel can recover. When the pH of saliva increases to 7.8, it allows special compounds in your saliva like calcium and phosphate to remineralize the dental enamel, making it stronger and harder.
As you eat throughout the day, try to avoid getting into set eating patterns, such as always having a soda with your dinner or enjoying lemon sorbet for desert. Instead, mix things up as much as possible, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Additionally, drink water with your meals to help to rinse away food particles while replenishing your hydration and paving the way for healthy saliva production.
- Attend Regular Medical Checkups
Although many people assume that your personal health is completely separate from your oral hygiene, your medical history can impact your teeth significantly. Issues like acid reflux and bulimia can erode enamel by bathing your teeth in acid, and conditions like diabetes can increase the glucose content of saliva, making it easier for oral bacteria to damage enamel.
In addition to making routine visits to your dental office, meet with your doctor regularly to stay on top of your physical health. If you are diagnosed with a new condition, talk with your practitioner about how it could impact your dental health, and talk with your dentist about solutions.
Although visible enamel damage can be a difficult thing to accept, our dentist can help to make things right. At Crest Hill Family Dental, we offer preventive, restorative, and even cosmetic dental treatments, helping patients to enjoy beautiful, comfortable smiles. Stop by our office today to see how we can help.