Translucent Teeth: Three Things to Know

Header Image

Although normally teeth should be opaque, some may notice the edges of their teeth are actually translucent. Whether your teeth have always been this way or if it's a new feature of your smile, they should be examined by a dentist. Here are three things to know about this problem.

1. Causes of Translucent Teeth

Conditions like Celiac disease can result in poor enamel development, which gives your teeth a translucent appearance as a result, as well as some pitted or banded discoloration. Enamel hypoplasia – a side effect of some genetic conditions and environmental factors, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)– can thin the tooth surface as well. This condition affects the development of your teeth from their very early stages and causes hypomineralization (the loss of minerals from your tooth enamel) that gives your teeth a translucent appearance.

Acid erosion is another possible cause of translucency. Your tooth enamel can be eroded by the acids in your favorite foods and drinks or by exposure to stomach acid, such as in conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), morning sickness or bulimia. But because there are so many possible causes, it's best to see your dentist to find out exactly what's going on with your teeth.

2. Prevention

You can't prevent genetic conditions like Celiac disease or enamel hypoplasia, but physical effects like acid erosion are under your control. To prevent acid from eating away at your enamel and thinning your teeth, try to reduce your consumption of soda, fruit juice and other acidic foods and beverages that have natural counterparts. If and when you do eat or drink something acidic, remember to rinse your mouth out with water to rinse away most of the residue.

Health conditions that expose your teeth to stomach acid are grounds to see your family doctor for more direct precautionary treatment. To protect your teeth in the meantime, rinse your mouth with water following an episode of vomiting or acid reflux. You should also wait 30 minutes after this acid exposure to brush your teeth, as brushing too soon afterward could damage your enamel. When it is time to brush, try using a toothbrush such as the Colgate® Classic Clean Toothbrush!

3. Treatment Options

While you can't replace enamel once it's lost, your dentist has multiple treatments at his disposal to help restore the look of your enamel – bonding or veneers, in particular. Your dentist will determine the most appropriate treatment method. Here's a look at each one:

  • Bonding is a fast and minimally invasive cosmetic treatment that can restore the look of your teeth in a single appointment. If your dentist opts for this method, they will apply a composite resin to your teeth and mold it to fit the shape your mouth. Once the resin's appearance is perfected, it will be hardened and polished.
  • Veneers are another way to camouflage your translucent enamel. These thin pieces of porcelain are permanently attached to the front surfaces of your teeth, and if your dentist recommends them, you may need two appointments if a separate lab develops them. Your dentist will first prepare the surface of your teeth by removing a small amount of enamel for proper fit, then cement your veneers into place.

If your teeth look a little different, see your dentist to find out why. With the cause identified, treatment can begin to restore the look of your translucent teeth so you don't have to alter your daily routine.