The protective layer of enamel on your teeth is the hardest tissue in your body. When you think about all the tough foods you’re able to chew without a problem, it’s really no surprise!
Because your enamel isn’t made up of living cells, though, it’s not able to repair itself (called remineralizing) like the rest of your body’s tissues can. That means that while your skin can heal over cuts and your bones can regenerate after trauma, your enamel is gone for good once it starts to wear away.
When your enamel weakens, the sensitive parts of your teeth become exposed. You might notice pain when you drink hot or cold beverages or take a bite of something that’s a little too sweet. Beyond that discomfort, weakened enamel can cause more serious dental problems down the line as your teeth are more susceptible to cavities and decay.
So if you can’t rebuild your teeth’s enamel after it’s lost, can you at least strengthen what you still have? Thankfully, the answer is yes! Here are some ways you can protect your enamel so it can keep protecting your teeth.
First thing’s first: prevent further damage
Limit your intake of acidic or sugary foods and drinks
Acid and sugar can wreak havoc on your teeth’s enamel, and they come from sources you might have never considered. Limit your consumption of fruit juices (especially citrus varieties), soda, coffee, tea, starchy vegetables, candy, and anything else that’s overly tart or sweet.
Drink plenty of water, especially after eating
If you do decide to splurge on a glass of orange juice or get a quick sugar rush now and then, don’t worry — just take care to rinse your mouth with plain water as soon as possible to help wash away the damaging particles. It’s a good idea to sip on water frequently throughout the day to keep your mouth clean.
Brush twice a day, including your tongue and gums
The age-old advice still rings true: brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is the best way to keep your mouth healthy. When you brush, take care to also clean your tongue and surrounding gums, since enamel-damaging bacteria can also build up on those surfaces.
Address damaging problems like dry mouth or teeth grinding
Many oral health problems can have a negative impact on your teeth’s enamel, even if they don’t seem particularly related. For example, your saliva is key to limiting plaque and keeping your teeth clean in between meals, so it’s important to address any dry mouth issues right away (step one: drink more water throughout the day). Teeth grinding, known as bruxism, can also directly wear down your enamel without you realizing it. If you have any of these problems, make sure to see a professional dentist for treatment!
Avoid over-the-counter or home teeth whitening remedies
The internet is full of quick fixes and home remedies to get whiter teeth, but we strongly encourage you not to participate. Many cheap over-the-counter teeth whitening options are abrasive and damaging to your enamel, and a temporarily whiter smile is just not worth the risks of weakened teeth! If you really want your teeth to be brighter, contact your dentist for a safe, professional recommendation.
Help your existing enamel remineralize
Make sure you’re getting enough calcium
Calcium can help your existing enamel remineralize and get stronger. The average adult should get at least 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Make sure you’re hitting this mark by loading your diet with dairy, leafy greens, tree nuts, or even a daily multivitamin or calcium supplement.
Use dental products with fluoride
Fluoride not only fights bacteria — it also helps your enamel remineralize at a faster rate. Make sure all of your dental products contain fluoride, especially if you drink well or bottled water that doesn’t have any added.
Consider probiotics to help replenish your mouth’s good bacteria
Your body is full of both good and bad bacteria, and one way to help fight the bacteria you don’t want is to increase the ones you do. You can get probiotics from yogurt with active cultures or in a simple capsule form.
Seek professional dental treatment for further protection
Consider dental bonding or sealants
If your teeth’s enamel has been severely damaged, you might want to consider further protection like dental bonding or sealants on top of your regular dental cleanings. Your dentist will be able to work with you to find the treatment option that’s best for your unique situation — Madison Family Dental is here to answer any questions you might have about your enamel care.