Tooth enamel is the hardest and strongest substance in the body. It protects teeth from damage; however, it can dissolve or decay. This is what dentists mean when they’re talking about tooth decay. Some wear and tear on tooth enamel is normal, but you can keep the barrier strong and healthy. Following are a few tips.
- Limit your intake of sugary drinks and foods. This includes citrus drinks. Bacteria thrive on sugar and create acids that soften and wear away tooth enamel. Chewy candy are particularly bad as they can stick to your teeth. Soft drinks have extra acids. While artificially sweetened soft drinks are slightly better, they’re still acidic. Many flavored waters can also be acidic. If you must have orange juice, switch to a low acid variety. The very best thing to drink is a glass of plain water.
- Use fluoride. Fluoride is natures cavity fighter because it strengthens enamel, makes teeth resistant to acids, and can help repair early stages of decay. Using fluoride toothpaste and rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash and help keep the enamel strong.
- Consume foods that protect tooth enamel. Calcium helps keep your teeth and bones strong and counters the acid that causes tooth decay. Choose cheese, milk, and other dairy products. If you can’t or choose not to eat dairy, then look for foods with added calcium.
- Don’t over brush. If you brush too hard or too fast, you can wear down the enamel. Use a brush with a soft bristle and brush in short gentle strokes. After eating sweets, wait up to an hour before brushing as acidic foods soften the enamel and make it easier to cause damage.
- Treat heartburn and bulimia. Stomach acids may eventually reach your mouth, where enamel is eroded. Another serious threat to tooth enamel and health is the eating disorder, bulimia. If you have either of these conditions, discuss treatment with your doctor.
- Don’t grind your teeth. Over time, grinding your teeth can wear down enamel. A custom fitted mouth guard to wear while sleeping can protect your teeth. Talk to your dentist if your grind your teeth.
- Beware dry mouth. Saliva goes a long way to washing away food and bacteria in your mouth. To keep your moth moist and clean, drink water often. Hydrate before, during, and after working out. To keep saliva flowing, try chewing sugarless gum or eat sugarless candy. There are medical conditions that cause dry mouth, so talk to your doctor about how to manage it.
- Use a straw. When drinking soft drinks or fruit juices, use a straw. That way, the liquid won’t swish around your mouth, and will bypass the teeth.
If your enamel is damaged, there are various procedures your dentist can do to replace lost enamel, like fill cavities or build a crown around the tooth. It is important to have regular dental checkups; a cleaning every six months is recommended. Your dentist will be able to spot trouble before too much damage is done.