Protecting the enamel of your teeth is essential for maintaining your oral health. The enamel, or hard outer layer of the tooth, protects teeth against cavity-causing bacteria, extreme hot and cold temperatures, and daily wear from chewing.
There are many different causes of enamel loss. The acidic nature of certain beverages and foods, as well as the acid secreted by harmful, cavity-causing bacteria, contribute to the erosion of enamel. Dry mouth, a condition characterized by low levels of saliva production, and acid reflux disease also contribute to loss of this protective layer. Fortunately, enamel loss is preventable. The following is a list of several ways you can protect your enamel. The list is not exhaustive, but rather provides tips for general prevention on a daily basis.
Tip 1: Avoid Consuming Acid Beverages and Foods
As mentioned earlier, the acid found in sodas and energy drinks erode enamel. One of the best ways to prevent enamel erosion is to simply avoid consuming these beverages. The same is true for sour foods and candies. If you decide to partake in any of these items, rinse your mouth with water immediately after and do not brush your teeth until two hours after consumption. Brushing your teeth right after consumption will only spread the acid around the surfaces of your teeth and make the problem worse.
There are products available with modified acidic levels. An example of this is low-acid orange juice. Another way to decrease exposure is by consuming acidic beverages through a straw. Drinking a glass of milk or eating a piece of cheese after meals will also help neutralize acids.
Tip 2: Chew Gum and Drink Water
Chewing sugar-free gum with xylitol will help prevent food from sticking to your teeth. Chewing gum also increases saliva flow, which helps alleviate symptoms of dry mouth. The saliva in your mouth serves a very important function. Saliva washes acids and food particles away from your teeth. Saliva also neutralizes acids and helps control the population of harmful bacteria in your mouth. Those who suffer from dry mouth are more prone to tooth decay because they do not have as much saliva to protect the enamel of their teeth. Another way to offset the effects of dry mouth is to consume more water.
Tip 3: Brush Softly with Fluoride Toothpaste
Vigorous brushing can actually remove enamel from your teeth. Most people do not realize they brush too hard. Brush softly with a soft bristled toothbrush to protect enamel. You should also brush with fluoride toothpaste, which can help strengthen teeth and rebuild lost enamel. Dr. Calcagno offers fluoride treatments for those with chronically weak enamel.
Schedule an Appointment
If you have any questions about how to protect tooth enamel, or if you would like to schedule your next six-month dental cleaning, please call our Rochester dental office at (507) 281-3659. We serve patients from Rochester, Red Wing, St. Charles, Winona, Farmington, and the surrounding communities.