Protecting your tooth enamel is very important if you want to keep your smile bright and cavity-free. The hard mineral coating on the outside of your teeth protects the sensitive dentin inside from stains and decay. However, bad habits can damage your enamel and leave your teeth vulnerable to the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. What are some surefire ways to damage your enamel? Here are five.
1: Forgetting to Brush
The number one cause of enamel erosion is damage from plaque and tartar. If you neglect good habits like brushing twice a day, plaque and tartar will build up on the surface of your teeth and eat away at your tooth enamel. This causes dental caries, also known as cavities, which are tiny holes that expose the sensitive dentin under the enamel to infections and decay.
2: Eating Sugary and Starchy Foods
It’s a well-known fact that sugar causes cavities. The harmful bacteria that create plaque love to eat sugar, and when they do, they release harmful acids that erode your tooth enamel. Starchy foods like white bread and potato chips that stick to your teeth and get caught in your molars or along your gum line also cause cavities. The longer those sweet, sticky foods stay on your teeth, the easier it is for plaque and tartar to form.
3: Drinking Acidic Beverages
Acids soften your tooth enamel and make it more vulnerable to erosion. Habitually drinking acidic beverages like coffee, sodas, and fruit juice can harm your teeth. If those drinks also contain sugar, they can do even more damage. For example, drinking several cups of coffee every day puts your teeth at risk of stains and cavities. Try to limit your intake of acidic drinks and choose more tooth-friendly options like green tea, milk, or water.
4: Smoking or Vaping
If you smoke cigarettes, your tooth enamel will eventually become stained yellow or brown from the nicotine and tar they contain. Smoking—and vaping, too—causes dry mouth, one of the worst enemies of dental health. When your mouth is dry, it doesn’t produce enough saliva to wash away the bacteria that form plaque and damage your enamel. For a bright smile and a healthy mouth, it’s best to quit the nicotine habit!
5: Teeth Grinding
While grinding your teeth isn’t always a conscious habit, it’s one of the easiest ways to damage your tooth enamel. Grinding your teeth together, clenching your jaw, or habitually chewing on hard objects wears down your tooth enamel and can even chip or crack your teeth. If you grind your teeth while you sleep, your dentist can equip you with a custom-fit mouthguard to protect them from damage.
How to Protect Your Tooth Enamel
1: Brush Twice a Day
Plaque can build up in less than 24 hours, so brushing twice daily is very important. The best times to brush are before you go to bed and 15-30 minutes after eating breakfast. If you brush too soon after a meal, the acids in your mouth could cause more damage, so drink some water and wait for your saliva to rinse those acids away. Then, brush gently and thoroughly with a soft toothbrush, and use fluoride toothpaste to help rebuild your tooth enamel.
2: Cut Down on Sugar and Processed Foods
Eating a healthy diet of fresh, whole foods will protect your tooth enamel and benefit your general health as well. Juicy, crunchy foods like apples and carrots are great for your teeth. Not only do they keep your mouth hydrated, but their fiber also acts like a natural toothbrush that helps keep your teeth clean and plaque-free.
3: Drink More Water
Drinking water is one of the best things you can do for your teeth! Water rinses away bad bacteria and food particles, neutralizes acid attacks, and keeps your mouth hydrated. If you drink fluoridated tap water or bottled mineral water, you can even rebuild your tooth enamel by restoring some minerals lost to daily wear.
4: Say No to Nicotine
Smoking, chewing tobacco, and vaping are all bad for your teeth. Stay away from nicotine and tobacco products to prevent stains and dry mouth. If you do, you’ll have a brighter smile and better oral health, too!
5: Visit Your Dentist
One of the best ways to protect your tooth enamel is to schedule regular cleanings and exams with your dentist. If they notice any signs of teeth grinding, they can prescribe a mouth guard to protect your teeth from damage. Or, if your enamel is thin from regular wear over time, they can give you a fluoride treatment to restore vital minerals to your enamel and make it strong again.
Schedule an Exam at Advantage Dental Group in Pueblo
Many bad habits can ruin your enamel, but our dentists can help you start out in 2022 with better oral health. We’ll help you protect your tooth enamel and make your smile brighter. A clean mouth is a healthy mouth, so schedule your next professional dental cleaning today! Call (719) 545-1400 or contact us online to make an appointment.