Our teeth are made to withstand years of wear and tear. They’re covered with a thin layer of enamel, a protective shell that’s the hardest substance in our bodies. Enamel is important to guarding the sensitive layers underneath against decay, excessive hot or cold temperatures and harmful substances. But tooth enamel is not indestructible, so our dentist at Dental Smiles of West Chicago wants you to have the facts when it comes to protecting this valuable gatekeeper.
One of the threats to tooth enamel is erosion from exposure to acid that’s either being ingested through foods and drinks, or produced through inner sources including acid reflux and pregnancy. Tooth enamel doesn’t consist of living cells, so it cannot be repaired by the body itself.
What are some signs of acid erosion? Tooth sensitivity when drinking or eating hot, cold, sour or sweet foods or beverages because the sensitive dentin below the enamel has become exposed. Teeth may appear smaller or thinner than usual, and the lower part of the front teeth may begin to look almost transparent. A yellowing of the teeth because the white enamel has worn away, leaving the dentin exposed.
One of the chief culprits is carbonated soda, even diet soft drinks. Citrus fruits including lemons, grapefruit, berries and oranges are also acidic. Exposure to even small amounts of chlorinated swimming pool water can be harmful. Acid reflux forces stomach acids into the throat and mouth. Morning sickness during pregnancy is also an acid-producer.
It’s recommended to limit your intake of the offending foods and drinks, and add selections like milk or cheese to neutralize acids. Rinse with water after eating, and wait at least 30 minutes afterward to brush your teeth.
Regular checkups with our dentist at Dental Smiles of West Chicago is the best way to identify and treat tooth erosion before it’s too late. If you have questions about erosion or any other aspect of oral health, please contact our office today!
By North Avenue Dental Associates
February 27, 2023