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Guard Your Teeth: Tips For Preventing Enamel Erosion

Enamel, the thin protective layer over your teeth, is the hardest tissue in your body. In other words, it's like armor for your teeth. Without it, your teeth are not protected against the daily wear and tear of biting, chewing, and grinding. For this reason, you'll want to guard your enamel from erosion. Here are a few ways to keep your enamel in great shape.

Be Careful What You Drink

Did you know fruit drinks contain acids that can be more erosive than battery acid? Similarly, carbonated drinks contain phosphoric acid: a corrosive substance responsible for your beverage's sharper flavor. As a result, when you drink too many carbonated or acidic fruit drinks, you are gradually removing your enamel. If you must have a soda or a citrus beverage, follow these tips to minimize their harmful effects on your teeth:

  • When choosing between lemon-lime sodas or colas, go for the dark variety. After all, due to its high citrus and phosphoric acid content, light citrus-flavored soda dissolves two to five times more enamel than dark colas do.
  • Use a straw to decrease the amount of time the beverage touches your teeth.
  • Rinse with water afterwards to remove any acids on your teeth.

Prevent Dry Mouth

Saliva plays a pivotal role in keeping your teeth healthy. Likewise, saliva coats your teeth in a protective layer comprised of various minerals such as calcium. In the absence of saliva, your teeth are more vulnerable to erosive agents. To reduce dry mouth, you can do the following:

  • Chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva production.
  • Stay hydrated to help your mouth stay moist.
  • Ask your dentist for a special oral rinse that helps retain the moisture in your mouth.

Avoid Vinegar

Vinegar, including apple cider vinegar, is an ingredient in many salad dressings, condiments, and pickled foods. The acid lowers your mouth's pH level, which demineralizes, or dissolves, the enamel on your teeth. Due to their 'immature' tooth enamel, teenagers are especially vulnerable to the effects of vinegar. In fact, teens who consistently consume vinegar-rich foods have a 30 to 85 percent increase in their risk for enamel erosion. If you must eat those salt and vinegar chips, remember to swish with water afterwards. It will help rinse away any acidic residue.

Be Gentle with Your Teeth

Unfortunately, since enamel isn't made up of living cells, it cannot be organically repaired once chipped or cracked. Causes for chipped or cracked teeth include:

  • Teeth grinding: When you grind your teeth, a condition known as bruxism, you are more likely to chip or fracture a tooth. To reduce the contact between your upper and lower teeth, your dentist can make you a custom mouth guard.
  • Harsh brushing: This can wear away your enamel. To brush the right way, first make sure you have a soft bristled tooth brush. Then, turn your tooth brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums and use short strokes in an up and down fashion. When in doubt, you can schedule a professional teeth cleaning to help you see if you are brushing correctly.

You've only got one set of adult teeth. By preventing enamel erosion, you can help your teeth stay strong and healthy.