What is Tooth Enamel?
Tooth enamel is the hard, off-white material on the surface of your teeth. Enamel is essentially a cover for your teeth to protect them from damage while you eat. Additionally, enamel acts as a barrier between hot and cold beverages or food and the roots of your teeth, which are sensitive to temperature changes.
While it is true that tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, it is still fragile and easily cracked or damaged. Enamel erosion is also referred to as tooth decay, which causes serious dental problems.
Brushing and flossing regularly are great ways to take care of your teeth, however it’s easy to damage tooth enamel without realizing it! This blog walks you through the five most common ways that people damage tooth enamel. Avoid these behaviors to ensure your tooth enamel is strong and healthy.
How to Damage Tooth Enamel
1. Brush Too Often
Surprising? Did you think that the more you brush your teeth, the better? That’s not the case! If you brush your teeth too often or too rigorously, you eventually begin to brush the enamel away.
Additionally, over-brushing causes your gums to recede, which leads to root sensitivity and potentially periodontal disease. Stick to brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes – this will thoroughly clean your teeth but won’t damage your enamel.
2. Use Your Teeth as a Tool
You may do this more often than you realize. Do you use your teeth to quickly open a package, or open a bobby pin to put into your hair? You may even use your teeth to hold an item to temporarily free up your hands. While this is certainly convenient, it is very bad for your enamel.
Enamel’s protecting abilities are limited to chewing food. Doing anything else with your teeth is risky, and may crack or break your enamel. Even if your enamel doesn’t become visibly damaged, the excessive strain wears down enamel over time.
3. Drink Sugary or Acidic Drinks
Most of us are aware that sugary drinks are not good for our health. As dentists, we encourage our patients to keep soda and juice intake to a minimum to protect their enamel and prevent tooth decay.
Many of our patients are not aware that acidic beverages (coffee, red wine, tea) are harmful to tooth enamel as well. The sugar and acid in these beverages eat away the enamel over time, and eventually causes cavities.
Not ready to give up sugary or acidic drinks? Sip from a straw to avoid the beverages being in direct contact with your teeth.
4. Whiten or Bleach too Often
It’s perfectly okay to whiten your teeth every once in a while, whether it’s a professional treatment at Pointe Dental Group, or an at-home treatment. However, it’s important to not over-whiten, as the chemicals in the whitening agents can cause gum sensitivity and enamel damage.
If you get your teeth bleached professionally, you should only need to get a touch-up every six months. If you use an at-home kit, limit your use to two times a year.
A majority of people don’t intentionally get sick, however approximately one and half million Americans are bulimic. People with this eating disorder often go through periods of binge eating and purging, which can be extremely harmful to the teeth. Tooth enamel is not meant to withstand stomach acid, and with repeated exposure to the acid, the enamel erodes. If you have any symptoms of bulimia, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
As you can see, it’s important to take care of your tooth enamel. By doing so, you will have a beautiful, healthy smile for years to come. What are some ways that you take care of your tooth enamel? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section!