Chalk belongs on a blackboard – not on your teeth. Still, from time to time you may notice that your teeth have a distinctly grainy, chalky feeling. For some, that sensation might be the indicator of a serious dental issue. Whether it's once in a while or a constant problem, chalky teeth should always be addressed with good oral care and the help of your dentist. Understanding the cause of the issue can help lead you to stronger teeth and a healthier smile.
Causes of Chalky Teeth
A chalky, gritty sensation on your teeth can be a product of the foods you eat. Food-based grit is caused by an excess of oxalic acid, a component of certain foods like leafy greens, strawberries, nuts, dry beans and chocolate. When oxalic acid combines with the naturally occurring calcium in your body, it creates tiny crystals that are hard for your saliva to break down, explains theHuffington Post. As a result, you might feel an unpleasant chalky deposit on your teeth after eating these foods, which can be quickly remedied with a little help from oral hygiene.
If the powdery sensation comes along with a chalky appearance or can't be simply brushed or rinsed away, you might have a condition called hypomineralization. In this condition, a decreased mineral content in tooth enamel results in a soft, chalky texture, notes Science in Public. Hypomineralization is most often seen and treated in pediatric dental patients and is often diagnosed when teeth break easily or have a bright white, spotted appearance. Breakage can sometimes result in pain and sensitivity, so you or your child should see your dentist if a chalky sensation becomes chronic.
Treatment for Chalky Teeth
If you only get chalky teeth after eating certain foods, there's no cause for alarm. It's a natural process that happens when you eat foods high in oxalic acid, and you can get rid of the sensation with a quick mouthwash. If you don't have mouthwash handy, swishing with some water or chewing a piece of sugar-free gum should help clean your mouth and restore a smooth feeling.
If you think your chalky teeth are actually low in minerals, schedule an appointment with your dentist. For children, the problem can often be solved with a series of fluoride treatments, notes BMC Oral Health. In some cases, a tooth may need to be extracted, but your dentist can also discuss other options to protect teeth with weakened enamel, such as crowns. Crowns can help protect your teeth from further breakage and can even be used on children for healthier, stronger, pain-free teeth.
A gritty, chalky feeling in your mouth isn't pleasant. Luckily, in most cases it's simply the effect of a spinach salad or a handful of pecans, and you can banish the sensation by skipping the offending foods or being ready with a swig of mouthwash. But if chalky teeth are your constant companion along with frequent breakage and pain, talk to your dentist about treatment options. Either way, a chalky feeling can and should be the exception, rather than the rule.