Did you know enamel is the hardest substance in your body? The shiny, white surface of your teeth is made of 96% mineral making it stronger than bone. Still, tooth enamel becomes vulnerable when exposed to a diet full of sugary foods and beverages. If the enamel erodes, is there any way to repair it?
Can Tooth Enamel Be Restored?
Enamel erosion occurs when acids wear away the hard, outer layer of your teeth. Your saliva works to neutralize any acids in your mouth, but specific diets, oral hygiene habits, and medical conditions can make it hard for your saliva to keep up. The foods and beverages you consume tend to be the main culprit of this acid production. These include:
- sugary foods (like candy or fruit juice)
- starchy foods (like bread or potatoes)
- acidic foods (like soda or citrus fruits)
A diet high in these foods combined with poor oral hygiene can put your enamel at risk. Other causes for tooth erosion include:
- teeth grinding or bruxism
- chronic acid reflux
- low salivary flow or xerostomia
- medications (like aspirin)
- eating disorders (like bulimia)
Because enamel plays an important role in protecting the inner, living parts of your teeth, erosion can lead to cavities, sensitivity, and infection. Eroded teeth often appear discolored, cracked, chipped, or indented. They also become sensitive to tastes and temperatures.
Tooth enamel loses minerals, weakens, and breaks down in stages. Once the enamel is gone, the lost portion cannot be retrieved. Your body cannot make new enamel. However, you can strengthen and repair existing enamel. This happens through a process called remineralization, which naturally occurs when essential minerals like fluoride, calcium, and phosphate reunite with your enamel. You can assist the remineralization process by:
- Brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day.
- Cleaning between your teeth daily with floss or an interdental device.
- Avoiding sugary, starchy, and acidic foods.
- Drinking plenty of water and chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production.
- Talking to your dental professional about any conditions or medications that might contribute to enamel erosion.
When enamel continues to lose its minerals, it is eventually destroyed. This forms a cavity and leaves the dentin exposed and unprotected. Applying remineralization treatments at this stage will not restore the enamel. At this point, a dentist can only repair a cavity by filling it.
Your enamel takes a daily beating from the foods you eat. Implement some preventative measures by adjusting your diet and instilling a proper oral hygiene routine. With the right care and products, you can ensure your smile stays strong and healthy.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.