What causes Tooth Enamel loss?1 Oct 2021
You may have heard of the term ‘tooth enamel’ when either visiting your dental professional or on television ads. If you’re unsure, enamel is the outermost layer of a tooth that you can generally see when you look at your teeth. Teeth consist of 3 different layers:
- The innermost layer called the pulp which consists of the nerves and blood supply of the tooth.
- The middle layer called dentine which makes up the bulk of the tooth.
- The outermost layer of enamel.
Tooth enamel is the hardest surface in the human body and therefore functions to protect the softer, vulnerable inner layers of the teeth. It is critical to maintain a healthy layer of enamel to keep your teeth strong and prevent issues such as tooth sensitivity, chips or breakages or dental decay.
When teeth are formed, most people start with healthy layers of enamel; however, in rare cases, some people fail to develop sufficient enamel at all! Despite most people starting off with a strong, healthy layer of enamel, there are still many factors that can cause enamel to wear down.
Yes, enamel is a very strong material; however, it can be susceptible to breakdown from the following:
- Poor dental hygiene- If plaque is left on your teeth from not brushing or cleaning between your teeth properly, it can become acidic over time which can eventually lead to dental decay.
- Certain medical conditions such as acid reflux and those that cause frequent vomiting can thin the enamel due to the frequent acid exposure coming in contact with the teeth.
- Hard toothbrushing or use of a medium or hard toothbrush – Although many people think that using a hard toothbrush or scrubbing the teeth will do a better job of plaque removal, it can actually lead to tooth enamel loss through a condition called toothbrush abrasion. We recommend using a soft toothbrush.
- Carbonated or sugary beverages- carbonated drinks can be acidic and therefore can thin your teeth over time.
- Frequent sugary, acidic or starchy snacks (fermentable carbohydrates) can all produce a lower pH in your mouth, contributing to a higher acidic environment which leads to wearing of your enamel.
- Grinding or clenching your teeth – teeth are strong but this habit can definitely thin, chip, crack or break the enamel on the teeth.
- Injury- an injury to the face can often cause chips, cracks or breaks to the teeth.
To prevent tooth enamel loss, we recommend the following:
- Practice a good oral hygiene regime at home- it is critical that patients brush their teeth at least twice a day (or after each meal) for 2 minutes each time and also incorporate flossing (or another method to clean between the teeth) at least once a day. This recommendation helps to ensure all surfaces of the teeth get cleaned!
- Use a fluoridated toothpaste- fluoride works with the enamel layer to make enamel stronger and more resistant to acids and decay that can break it down.
- Use a soft toothbrush and do not brush too hard- We encourage you to see your dental professional to discuss the toothbrush that you are using and your toothbrushing method to ensure you are brushing your teeth correctly and not causing any damage.
- Visit your dentist and dental hygienist regularly- By visiting a dental professional regularly, we can assess for tooth enamel loss or any of its contributing risk factors and we can provide treatments to prevent further loss.
- If you have a medical condition that contributes to acid inside of the mouth (i.e., acid reflux), we recommend to see your dental professional to assess for tooth enamel loss and discuss possible treatments for prevention.
- Limit the frequency of carbonated beverages in your diet to decrease the acidic environment inside the mouth.
- Talk to your dental professional if you think you are grinding or clenching your teeth. We may recommend different options such as wearing a night guard to prevent the damage that grinding or clenching can do to your enamel.
- Decrease the frequency of sugary, starchy or acidic snacks in your diet which can lead to thinning of enamel over time – This can best be discussed with your dental professional, GP or dietitian.
- Wear a professionally made sports guard to protect your teeth from damage during sport. Although contact sports may be riskier to your teeth, solo sports such as weight lifting can also lead to tooth enamel loss through clenching and grinding. If you require a sports guard, see your dental professional as they can make you a custom made sports guard to ensure best protection.
At Bond St, we want to ensure your teeth (and mouth) are at their healthiest! We recommend seeing a dental professional at least 1-2 times per year for preventative tooth and gum maintenance. Remember, prevention is key and by getting your teeth and gums checked regularly, we are able to help prevent the progression of tooth enamel loss and other dental issues.
If you are concerned about tooth enamel loss or have any questions, please book in with our team of experts.
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