Do your teeth chip or fracture easily? Maybe you've been diagnosed with a medical condition that makes your tooth enamel weak and fragile. A thorough, daily oral care routine helps maintain strong, healthy teeth, but some people need extra help to fortify their smile.
What Causes Brittle Teeth?
Tooth enamel is usually extremely tough, but several conditions and habits may cause the structure of enamel to weaken and the teeth to become brittle. Habits that damage and weaken tooth enamel include tooth grinding and poor oral care. Grinding and clenching teeth wear away dental enamel, while decay and cavities from inadequate brushing eventually destroy the tooth pulp. Johns Hopkins Medicine states that pulpless teeth are weak and likely to chip and fracture.
Some conditions that weaken teeth are unavoidable, like aging. When people age, the pulp and nerves that supply the teeth shrink, the University of Missouri Extension explains. This process reduces the amount of fluid moving into the tooth enamel. Dry dental enamel is weaker and more prone to breakage. Older teeth have also received more exposure to chewing forces and acids that gradually cause thinner, more brittle enamel.
The inherited condition dentinogenesis imperfecta can also cause brittle enamel, according to the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation (OIF). The tooth enamel of people with dentinogenesis imperfecta is normal, but the condition affects the dentin and the site where the dentin and the enamel meet. As a result, the enamel breaks away from the dentin, leaving the teeth discolored and vulnerable to cavities.
Nutritional deficiencies are another cause of brittle teeth. A range of vitamins and minerals are essential for healthy dental enamel. For example, General Dentistry found that a vitamin A deficiency causes tooth brittleness, while a lack of vitamin D results in poor absorption of minerals like calcium and phosphorus that are vital for enamel strength. The National Eating Disorders Association points out that a prime cause of nutritional deficiencies is eating disorders. Eating disorders can sometimes result in acid damage to enamel as well if a person vomits frequently or sucks on lemon wedges.
Tooth enamel doesn't regrow, but dentists can treat brittle teeth to improve the enamel's strength. The OIF explains that your dentist may recommend fluoride supplements and fluoride gel treatments. Your dentist may also recommend applying sealant to the chewing surfaces to protect teeth from fractures and decay.
A dental professional can also cover or reinforce the teeth to prevent them from breaking or developing cavities. Further treatments for brittle teeth include veneers, which are thin shells that cover the teeth, and crowns, which are thicker, strong coverings for teeth that are at risk of breaking. Crowns are also common after a root canal procedure.
Living With Brittle Teeth
Fragile teeth require special care, but there's plenty you can do to achieve a healthy and attractive smile. If your teeth are already chipped or fractured, speak to your dentist about veneers or crowns to cover up the damage. You should also talk to a dental professional if you grind your teeth. A standard prescription for patients who grind their teeth is a mouth guard to wear at night that reduces the wear and tear on your teeth. Eat a healthy diet that includes calcium-rich dairy products, fruit and vegetables, and avoid eating acidic or sugary foods that may damage tooth enamel. If you suffer from an eating disorder, your dentist and doctor can help you find the guidance and help you deserve.
Brittle teeth don't have to hold you back. Talk to your dentist about how to improve the strength and appearance of your teeth.