Learn how you can keep this vital protective element in good shape through a combination of good habits and some dental secrets.
Enamel is the hard white stuff that is the shiny armor of your teeth. It is this protective ‘parasol’ that puts the white in your pearly whites, covering the inner crown.
This is the hardest tissue in the human body, rich as it is in mineral content. However, this very mineral content makes it susceptible to erosion, and foods rich in fermentable sugars such as candy, soft drinks, and even fruit juices can cause your teeth’s protective layer to fade away.
How Exactly Does Enamel Decay Happen?
When you eat or drink pretty much every sweet treat, from candy to soft drinks, the sugar in these coats the inner surface of your mouth. This sugar, being a fermentable carbohydrate, is broken down by bacteria in your mouth and forms lactic acid. This acid causes the crystals that make up your enamel to become demineralized and slowly wear away.
Now that you know how exactly your enamel can get damaged, let’s take a look at five ways to combat this process.
Prevention Is The Name Of The Game
The best way to fight enamel decay is by eliminating, or at least reducing, your intake of the foods that can cause it. This means that you need to limit candy and soft drinks that are heavy on the sugar, irrespective of what certain misleading ads can lead you to believe.
Contrary to common belief, the duration for which the sugar stays in your mouth is the more important factor, not the amount of sugar. Chewy candy that sticks to your teeth for a while is, therefore, more harmful.
When you feel thirsty, reach for the nearest glass of water instead of soda. This is the best choice, so far as your enamel is concerned.
Fluoride Is More Important Than You Thought!
Countless toothpaste ads highlight the fluoride content of their products, and with good reason—fluorides fight the effects of acids on your teeth, and thereby help slow down the harmful demineralization process.
Additionally, fluorides also help restore the portions of the enamel that have eroded due to acid damage, thus providing the two-part benefit of preventing damage while revitalizing damaged areas.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth sprouts, and even recommends that you drink fluoride-rich water, so long as the levels are within the ADA guidelines.
Brushing Too Much Is Bad?!
Overzealous strokes when brushing your teeth can cause damage to your precious enamel and cause its lustre to fade, which is the exact opposite of what you want.
To ensure that your enamel stays undamaged, brush using a soft brush held at a 45-degree-angle to your gums, making short, gentle strokes. By doing so, you will clean your teeth while ensuring that no harm comes to the enamel layer.
Health Conditions That Can Affect Enamel
Certain seemingly unrelated health disorders can cause indirect damage to your enamel layer.
Severe heartburn can bring up stomach acids due to acid reflux. These can erode your enamel layer through instant demineralization.
Bulimia is a famous eating disorder where sufferers are often compelled to purge themselves after every meal. This has the same effect that heartburn does, and for the same reason—acids that come with bile can cause the same eroding effect on your enamel.
Dry Mouth = Higher Enamel Decay Risk
Your saliva plays a major role in keeping enamel erosion at bay by constantly washing away the harmful foods and bacteria that cause erosion. If you don’t get enough fluids and become dehydrated, dry mouth can damage your teeth at an accelerated rate.
Rehydration is as easy as taking a drink of water. Alternatively, you can chew gum or eat some candy to keep your saliva flowing—just make sure these are sugar-free, or they defeat the purpose.
Once you have all of these down, you can significantly strengthen your enamel—brush properly, drink water and limit those risky, albeit tasty, sweet treats. Most importantly, get your teeth regularly checked for signs of decay.