Tooth enamel is the hard outer layer of our teeth. It is the hardest, most mineralized substance in our body (even stronger than bone) and is comprised mostly of calcium phosphate. But tooth enamel is surprisingly brittle. Each time we eat or drink anything acidic, the enamel becomes softer for a period of time and loses some mineral content. Generally, our own saliva will buffer the effects but if the acid attacks occur too frequently, our mouths do not have the opportunity to regain a natural pH balance. We are then susceptible to losing enamel when we brush, especially if we brush too abrasively.
Because tooth enamel is not living tissue, it cannot be replaced or regenerated so it is important to do what you can to protect your teeth’s enamel. Here are some tips:
- Avoid Fizzy Drinks. Carbonated beverages, even sugar-free options, increase the acidity in our mouths.
- Limit Sweet & Acidic Food and Drink. Be conscious of how much citrus you consume, as it is very acidic. Also be sure to limit dietary sugar. Bacteria feeds on sugar which forms plaque and produces acid.
- Choose Dairy. Products such as milk can help remineralize enamel that has weakened.
- Rinse Often. Rinsing immediately after eating or drinking can reduce the level of acidity in your mouth.
- Chew Sugar Free Gum. The act of gum chewing helps to increase saliva production which counteracts the effects of acidity in the mouth.
- Wait to Brush. Do not brush immediately after eating. Wait at least a half hour to allow your mouth time to regain its balance and allow teeth some time to build up their mineral content again. Always remember to brush gently!
- Use Fluoride. Speak to your dentist about applying fluoride gels to your teeth.