Anybody at any age can suffer from enamel erosion, and since its onset is often linked to what we eat and drink, paying particular attention to kids’ teeth is a must. That means identifying the causes of erosion and steps that can be taken to protect teeth. We’ll start off by answering the question, ‘what is tooth enamel?’ before moving onto potential signs and causes of erosion, and what you can do to prevent it.
What is enamel?
In order to identify the causes and prevention of tooth erosion, it’s good to consider exactly what is enamel? Well, in simple terms, it’s the hard outer surface of your teeth. It serves to protect against tooth decay and is even stronger than bone! If not looked after enamel can erode, and once that happens the tissues underneath can become exposed and vulnerable.
Signs of enamel erosion
Starting with the early signs of enamel erosion, here’s what to look out for:
- Sensitivity. Certain foods, often sweet, along with hot and cold drinks can cause a sharp twinge in the first stages of erosion.
- Discoloration. As the enamel erodes the tooth may appear dull and/or yellow.
- Cracks and chips. Edges of teeth can become jagged as enamel wears away.
Causes of enamel erosion
Now moving onto the causes of erosion – here are some of the most common:
- Diet. Food and drink consumption plays a major role in enamel erosion, in particular items like sugary cakes, sweets and fizzy drinks. This is because high levels of acid and sugar can eat away at enamel.
- Wear and tear. Environmental factors, or grinding over a period of time, can lead to the breakdown of enamel.
- Medical conditions. Gastrointestinal problems and conditions like acid reflux can make enamel susceptible to erosion.
How to prevent enamel erosion
Now that you know some of the causes and signs of erosion, let’s look at ways to prevent it:
- Specialist toothpastes. Brushing with a formula that promotes a hardening of enamel and the reversing of early signs of erosion can certainly make a difference.
- Change of diet. Cutting down, or cutting out, food and drink that promote erosion is one of the most powerful ways of preventing erosion. When you or your kids do eat or drink sweet things, it’s good to rinse away the acids and sugars with water afterwards.
- Effective oral hygiene routine. Good oral health is vital in protecting your teeth. Brushing twice a day, flossing and using a mouthwash all provide you with an effective front line of defence.
- Regular dental visits. Your dentist will be able to spot the early signs and help you make relevant changes.
Looking after your own and your kids’ teeth is an everyday undertaking. Put these tips into practice to help keep them healthy and prevent enamel erosion.