At first glance, your dazzling teeth may seem healthy, but weak enamel can still undermine your oral health without discoloring your smile. Strong tooth enamel is one of the most important considerations in good mouth care, and protecting it is paramount to excellent long-term general health. The good news is there are many ways to help strengthen your enamel, no matter how depleted it has already become.
Tooth Enamel Can't Regenerate
Tooth enamel is the outermost layer of your teeth, and serves to protect them from decay and physical damage. This enamel can weaken because genetics and illnesses, such as Celiac disease, per Everyday Health. Likewise, improper brushing, brushing too hard and acidic foods can also break down and damage enamel, weakening it over time.
Unfortunately – unlike your bones (which contain regenerative cells), your enamel cannot grow back. Once it wears down, it can't be replaced. But you can take steps to strengthen weak enamel to stop further erosion.
1. Avoid Food and Beverages That Demineralize Enamel
Fermentable carbohydrates, which are found in candy, cookies, soft drinks, breads, crackers, bananas and many sugar-laden breakfast cereals, combine with bacteria in your mouth to create harmful acids that break down the building blocks of your tooth enamel. This process is called demineralization because the acid "eats away" at naturally produced minerals within your enamel. Generally speaking, sugary, highly processed treats can demineralize your enamel over time, and that's especially true if you don't take care to properly brush your teeth; acids produced by these foods attach to your teeth and remain on your teeth after you've eaten.
2. Add Remineralizing Products
One of the best preventative steps you can take is to consistently use products that contain remineralizing agents. The mineral fluoride is one of the best ways to fortify it. Drinking fluoridated water and inquiring with your dentist about topical fluorides are great steps to take.
3. Properly Brush Your Teeth
If you've been feeling a twinge of sensitivity when brushing or eating, it's always best to make an appointment with your dentist. But brushing too forcefully, or with hard bristles, can break down enamel all by itself. To strengthen it, keep these tips in mind:
- Brush at least twice a day with a soft bristle toothbrush.
- Position your brush at a 45-degree angle when brushing and use short, decisive strokes.
- For a thorough clean, brush your teeth for at least two minutes.
- Brush all areas of your mouth, including your tongue to remove bacteria that often linger here.
Saliva, produced after brushing your teeth, can also offset demineralization. Containing minerals and proteins that safeguard your enamel from decay, it washes germs off of your teeth constantly when you're not paying attention.
4. Choose a Remineralizing Diet
You may be surprised to learn that tooth decay, which can occur if you have prolonged weakened enamel, was not as big a problem for ancient humans as it is today, according to UC Berkeley. Modern diets since the Industrial Revolution have played a large part in this increased rate of decay.
But some foods still help to remineralize your teeth, so choosing a diet rich in these items can help strengthen your enamel. The ADA recommends foods from every food group for a healthy mouth:
- Whole grains
- Fruits and veggies
- Lean proteins
- Low-fat dairy products
Certain foods, like cheese, have been found to prevent demineralization on teeth, per the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Cheese promotes saliva flow, which helps to maintain the pH level in your mouth, inhibiting acid production. Celery – a vegetable that is very high in water – can also maintain saliva levels in your mouth, serving to remineralize soft tooth enamel.
Strengthening the enamel of your teeth by choosing the right foods, cutting back on the wrong ones and taking good oral care, with products like Colgate® Enamel Health™ Sensitivity Relief toothpaste to replace natural calcium, will help keep your teeth as strong and beautiful as they already appear.