Did you know that your bone is not the hardest tissue in your body? Your tooth enamel is. And it’s a good thing, because it’s job is to protect the teeth from physical and chemical damage.
But even though your enamel is tough, it’s not invincible. Tooth enamel can wear away over time — which is called enamel erosion — and it can result in a number of problems for your teeth, including:
- Rough edges
- Shiny spots
- Teeth sensitivity
- Tooth decay
- Yellow stains
The downside: Tooth enamel loss can’t be reversed. But the upside? There are things you can do to stop it if you catch it early. So, what are the signs and symptoms of tooth enamel loss you should keep an eye on?
Tooth Enamel Loss Signs & Symptoms
If you’re experiencing any of the following, your teeth may be losing their protective enamel coating:
- Cracks and chips
- Increased sensitivity to taste, textures, and temperature variations
- Indentations (these are known as cups) on the surface of your teeth
How to Prevent Tooth Enamel Loss in the First Place
There are things you can do to help reduce the speed and severity of enamel erosion, especially if you’re already experiencing the above signs and symptoms. The first step to slowing the damage is to examine your diet. What you put in your mouth has a major impact on the health of your teeth.
Instead of sugary, starchy, or high acidic foods (think ice cream, white bread, and orange juice), opt for fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables. Foods high in protein are great replacements, too. Look at the labels of the foods you buy to make sure they don’t contain too many added ingredients, especially sugars. Sodas can also be rough on your enamel, so opt for naturally flavored water instead.
If you can’t avoid sugary, starchy, or acidic foods (no one can give up ice cream forever), the next best thing is to brush your teeth immediately after eating. This cleans the surface of your teeth and washes away the sugar and acid that can gradually damage tooth enamel. At minimum, you should brush your teeth at the beginning and end of each day (and don’t forget to floss, too!)
Next, buy and use a mouthguard if you consistently grind your teeth as you sleep. Teeth grinding is a frequent cause of tooth enamel loss. If you’re unsure, talk to your dentist about signs that you may be grinding your teeth. He or she can also recommend the best type of mouthguard to purchase.
Remember: Once tooth enamel loss occurs, you can’t get it back. But you can stop it from getting worse. Knowing the signs and symptoms of tooth enamel erosion and altering your lifestyle to stop it are crucial steps to keeping your teeth as healthy and strong as possible.
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