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(920) 682 - 7881 4725 Plank Road
Manitowoc, WI 54220

Is My Enamel Wearing Away?

Tooth enamel is the thin outer covering of the tooth; it’s the hardest tissue in the human body. Enamel covers the crown, which is the part of the tooth that’s visible outside of the gums.  Enamel helps protect your teeth from daily use such as chewing, biting, crunching, and grinding.  Enamel also insulates the teeth from potentially painful temperatures and chemicals.

Although enamel is a hard protector of teeth, it can chip and crack.  Unlike a broken bone that can be repaired by the body, once a tooth chips or breaks, the damage is done forever.  The body cannot repair chipped or cracked enamel.

Tooth erosion happens when acids wear away the enamel on teeth. Enamel erosion can be caused by the following:

  • Excessive soft drink consumption (high levels of phosphoric and citric acids)

  • Fruit drinks (some acids in fruit drinks are more erosive than battery acid)

  • Dry mouth or low salivary flow

  • Diet high in sugar and starches

  • Acid reflux disease

  • Gastrointestinal problems

  • Medications (aspirin, antihistamines)

  • Genetics (inherited conditions)

  • Environmental factors (friction, wear & tear, stress, and corrosion)

The signs of enamel erosion may include:

  • Sensitivity. Certain foods (sweets) and temperatures of foods (hot or cold) may cause a twinge of pain in the early stage of enamel erosion.

  • Discoloration. As the enamel erodes and more dentin is exposed, the teeth may appear yellow.

  • Cracks and chips. The edges of teeth become more rough, irregular, and jagged as enamel erodes.

  • Severe, painful sensitivity. With more progressive enamel erosion, teeth become extremely sensitive to temperatures and sweets. You may feel a painful jolt that takes your breath away.

  • Cupping. Indentations appear on the surface of the teeth.

Below are several tips to help prevent enamel loss and keep teeth healthy.

Be sure to brush and floss teeth daily.  Visit Lakeshore Dental every six months for regular checkups and cleaning. 

Eliminate highly acidic foods and drinks from your diet such as carbonated sodas, lemons, and other citrus fruits and juices. Rinse mouth immediately with water after eating acidic foods or drinking acidic drinks.

Use a straw when you drink acidic drinks; it pushes the liquid to the back of your mouth, avoiding your teeth.

Monitor snacks. Snacking throughout the day increases the chance of tooth decay. Your mouth remains acidic for a few hours after eating foods high in sugar and starches. Avoid snacking unless you’re able to rinse your mouth and brush teeth.

Chew sugar-free gum between meals to boost saliva production. Saliva helps strengthen teeth with important minerals.

Drink more water throughout the day.

Fluoride strengthens teeth, so make sure fluoride is listed as an ingredient in your toothpaste.

Ask us about daily fluoride mouthwash if you have a history of cavities. Also ask if sealants may be helpful in preventing enamel erosion and tooth decay.