Posted by Dr. William Yoo
Your teeth are protected by one of the hardest substances in the human body, namely enamel. However, tooth enamel is also quite fragile. Some things such as poor foods and drinks choices, subjecting your teeth to hard surfaces, such as through nail biting, and poor dental hygiene can cause tooth enamel to wear away faster than it can rebuild (through remineralization).
In between professional dental services, use these tips to protect your tooth enamel and avoid tooth sensitivity and decay:
Sweets and soft drinks, including diet soda and unsweetened fizzy drinks, are full of sugar. Bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugar and convert it to acid that softens and wears away tooth enamel. Consuming too many sugary foods and drinks increases the risk for tooth decay. While drinks with artificial sweeteners are better, they contain acids that eat away at enamel over time.
Foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits, as well as drinks like lemon juice and red wine contain a lot of acid that eats away at the enamel. Try to limit the consumption of these sour items to mealtimes, and then rinse your mouth immediately with plain water. Keep in mind that flavoured waters are usually acidic.
Sour foods that have high acid content tend to soften tooth enamel. If you brush your teeth right after a meal, you are more likely to hurt your teeth than benefit your mouth. Instead, wait for about one hour for saliva to rinse your mouth and reduce the acidity.
Whenever possible, have a piece of cheese or a glass of milk after consuming acidic foods to neutralize the acids. Cheese is particularly helpful, as it increases saliva secretion, which helps to wash away acidic residue and other debris after meals. All dairy products contain calcium and phosphate that help to restore damaged tooth enamel through remineralization.
Keep water nearby and sip all day long. It is especially important to rinse your mouth often when eating sugary or acidic foods, or when drinking alcoholic beverages to avoid having a dry mouth. Sugar-free chewing gum also helps to improve saliva production, keep your breath fresh, and avoid dry mouth.
Final Tip: Seek Professional Dental Care
Regular dental services can help to keep your teeth strong and healthy. Your dentist can easily spot early signs of tooth enamel loss, such as sensitivity, decay, roughness around the edges, and tooth wear from conditions such as bruxism or GERD, and recommend the necessary action or treatment to preserve tooth enamel.