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Five Things That Are Damaging Your Enamel

Five Things That Are Damaging Your Enamel
Posted on July 08, 2019


Nobody likes going to the dentist to repair broken teeth, cavities or gum disease. However, what about the damage that occurs to your enamel over time?

The surface of your teeth is called enamel. It helps to protect your teeth from decay. All people experience some wear and tear, which is normal, but some culprits occur daily that weakens the enamel and ultimately results in visiting the dentist. The good news is that there's plenty you can do to keep that barrier healthy and active. 

Here are the 5 worst offenders for weakening enamel and what you can do about it:

1) Limit Sugary Foods and Drinks

Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar from foods and drinks. Then they make acids, which soften and wear away your enamel. Chewy candies that stick on your teeth can also cause damage. Soft drinks may have extra acids that cause tooth enamel erosion.

Soft drinks with artificial sweeteners are a smarter choice than ones with sugar, but they're also acidic and will wear down enamel over time.

The best choice when you're thirsty? A glass of plain water is your best bet, as many flavoured waters and sports drinks are acidic.

2) Eat Foods That Protect Tooth Enamel

Calcium in food counters acids in your mouth that cause decay. It also helps keep your bones and teeth strong.

Milk, cheese, and other dairy products help protect and strengthen enamel. Choose low-fat or fat-free items to help keep calories down.

If you don't eat dairy, look for foods with calcium added. 

3) Avoid Over-Brushing Your Teeth

You can wear down your enamel if you brush too fast and hard. Hold a brush with a soft bristle at about a 45-degree angle to your gums. Then move it back and forth in short, gentle strokes, about the distance of one tooth.

Wait for up to an hour after eating sweets or citrus fruits before you brush your teeth. Acidic foods can soften enamel and may make it easier for you to damage it.

4) Use Fluoride Toothpaste

The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) calls fluoride "nature's cavity fighter" because it strengthens your enamel and helps repair the early stages of tooth decay. Fluoride also makes your teeth more resistant to acids that come from foods and bacteria in your mouth.

The CDA recommends fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth appears and throughout your life. Rinsing with a mouthwash that has fluoride can also help prevent cavities and keep your enamel strong. 

5) Treat Heartburn and Eating Disorders

If you have severe heartburnstomach acids may escape and eventually reach your mouth, where they can erode enamel. The eating disorder bulimia, in which people vomit food after they eat, is another threat to your enamel as stomach acid weakens and erodes your tooth enamel.

If you have either condition, talk to your family doctor about treatment.  With heartburn and acid reflux disease, a change of diet,or medicine therapy can help.  Your doctor might suggest an over the counter H2 blocker like Zantac, or a prescribed PPI like Nexium.  Furthermore, we can also recommend toothpastes that help protect your teeth against enamel erosion from stomach acids.

Here is one more culprit to be aware of:

Moderate Your Intake of Fruit and Fruit Juices

While fruit is a part of a healthy, balanced diet, it can also be highly acidic. Some of the worst culprits are citrus fruits, such as grapefruit and oranges.  Even if the fruit juice isn't citrus based, citric acid is added to many other juices (like apple and grape) as it is a preservative. 

Fruit acids create a process of calcium chelation on tooth enamel. This means that the acids bind to calcium and strip it away. Fruit juices are even worse, as these are highly acidic and often contain added sugars.

Your best bet is to stay away from juices and to eat or drink acidic fruits only on occasion.  Chewable vitamin C may also cause dental erosion as it could leave a residue of acidic vitamin c on your teeth.  Thus, it's better to take vitamin c in pill form.  If you do require chewable vitamin c pills, a glass of milk or a small piece of dairy could help neutralize the acid.  Sugar free gum also helps as it increases your saliva which neutralizes the acidic vitamin c.  If you have concerns about chewable Vitamin C, please speak to your dentist for personalized treatment tips.

It’s Your Call!

Your tooth enamel is crucial for healthy and strong teeth. With a little bit of awareness and wisdom, you can have a beautiful smile that will last a lifetime.

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