Tooth enamel is the hard outer layer of your teeth and is incredibly important in protecting your teeth from harmful germs and bacteria. Although it’s the hardest substance in your body, enamel can begin to wear down, which leaves your teeth unprotected and vulnerable to decay. How do you know if your enamel is wearing down? Here are three ways to identify if your teeth are protected by this important outer shell.
Enamel is visible to the naked eye, so it is possible to see or feel your enamel wearing off. If you notice small indentations or depressions in your teeth, this is a sign of enamel erosion. Dentists call this condition cupping and the most common cause is from acids in the mouth that slowly erode enamel. These acids can come from certain foods and drinks like sodas, alcohol, and citrus fruits, tobacco, medications, or even some medical conditions like acid reflux. In severe cases of cupping, your dentist may recommend bonding or dental crowns.
Another sign that your enamel is wearing down is if your teeth become more yellow. As enamel wears down, the next layer of your tooth will be exposed. This layer is called dentin and it is more yellowish in color. This yellowish tint to your teeth won’t be the same color as stains that are caused by things like sugary food and drink or tobacco use. Instead, dentin makes teeth look dull and less shiny.
While it’s not always obvious your enamel is wearing away simply by appearance, an easier way is if you begin to experience some discomfort. For example, if you notice that your teeth are especially sensitive when eating very hot or very cold foods, this can be an indicator that your enamel is wearing down. Without enamel, the dentin layer of your tooth is exposed, and this layer is softer and more sensitive.
Another sign you’ve lost tooth enamel is if you are experiencing a toothache. When enamel gets worn down because of plaque, your teeth no longer have the protection they need. Bacteria slowly travel deeper into the tooth which is when a cavity occurs, creating discomfort or even severe pain, and can only be fixed with a dental filling.
It’s important to note that it is not always possible to identify the wearing down of enamel. This is why it is essential that you visit your dentist twice a year for a checkup and dental cleaning. Your dentist will be able to quickly identify any teeth that have enamel erosion, as well as help you with treatment options.
Tooth enamel is incredibly important to your oral health so it’s vital that you practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time and floss every single day to clean areas that brushing can’t. Make sure you use toothpaste with fluoride which will help strengthen your teeth and prevent erosion and decay. Because enamel wears down from acids in your mouth, a great way to protect the enamel on your teeth is by avoiding certain acidic foods and drinks that are more likely to produce plaque, such as sugary sodas, sticky candy, and sweet alcoholic beverages.
If you suspect your enamel is wearing down, or if you are looking to get a professional cleaning and checkup, we would love to serve you at Cornerstone Family Dentistry. Please make an appointment with us today!