The human body is remarkably good at alerting you when something is wrong. It tells you when to ice that sprained ankle or to call your doctor because you've had a chest cough for two weeks. The mouth is no exception: If your teeth feel rough, something may be wrong with your smile. Rough teeth often indicate that your tooth enamel may be eroding.
The sole job of tooth enamel is to defend your pearly whites against damage. Even though it's the hardest substance in the human body, it's not invincible. Enamel is susceptible to erosion by acid and accumulated bacteria.
Enamel loss is irreversible. However, there are steps you can take to prevent erosion, starting with learning its causes.
Causes of Enamel Erosion
There are several causes of enamel erosion. Citrus fruits like lemons, limes and oranges can demineralize enamel. Eat citrus fruits in moderation to reap the vitamin benefits without damaging your teeth. Another major culprit is soda. Plaque uses sugar, which carbonated soft drinks are loaded with, to wear away enamel. Drink more water, instead.
Acid reflux and pregnancy can both cause enamel erosion. Stomach acids from reflux regurgitate into the throat and mouth, reaching the teeth. In this way, morning sickness in pregnant women can similarly affect enamel. Stomach acids collect on the teeth and cause them to deteriorate.
Even the high chlorine content in swimming pools can erodes enamel. Pool water can come in contact with your teeth if you accidentally ingest some water while swimming.
While enamel can't be fully restored, since the human body doesn't make it, it can be partially repaired and strengthened through a process called remineralization. Teeth can be remineralized with products containing fluoride and calcium. The fluoride and calcium fortify weak spots in the existing enamel. Fluoride guards against the effects of food, drinks and anything else that is corrosive.
Preventing Enamel Erosion
Fortifying enamel and avoiding erosion requires good oral care habits. Including preventive maintenance in your daily routine may be easier than you think.
Be sure to brush at least twice per day and to floss once per day. Use an enamel-hardening toothpaste to sustain your existing enamel while also preventing cavities.
Try to drink fluoridated water. The fluoride in the water helps ward off tooth decay. When ingested, fluoride remains in saliva, allowing time for the fluoride to absorb into the enamel.
One way to stimulate saliva production is by chewing sugar-free gum. Saliva cleanses the teeth's surfaces of harmful particles and acids that can cause decay. Saliva can also remineralize teeth because of its mineral content.
If your teeth feel rough and you think your enamel might be eroding, consult your dentist. They can diagnose an enamel erosion issue and determine the proper treatment.