Throughout our lives, our teeth are constantly under attack. Harmful bacteria feed on food particles in the mouth, particularly sugar. This leads to the creation of by-products that wear away at the surface of teeth and ultimately cause tooth decay.
However, there is another challenge that’s just as serious: Dental erosion.
When we eat acidic foods of any kind, tooth enamel temporarily softens and loses some of its important minerals. Within a few hours, saliva naturally restores the pH balance of the mouth. However, during this time, the enamel is at particular risk of permanent damage.
Dental erosion can be prevented by adjusting diet to avoid acidic foods. Acid attacks can also be reduced by finishing a meal with cheese or milk; two items that can help restore pH balance more quickly. Some sugar-free gums can help by naturally stimulating saliva production after eating.
To reduce enamel damage, wait at least an hour after a meal before you brush your teeth.
Can Tooth Enamel Be Restored?
Once tooth enamel is damaged, it cannot be brought back. However, weakened enamel can be restored to some degree by improving its mineral content. Although toothpastes and mouthwashes can never “rebuild” teeth, they can contribute to this remineralization process.
Remineralization introduces minerals, especially calcium, to the teeth. These minerals bond to the surface of the teeth and are drawn to weak points in the enamel. This is especially effective in cases of dental erosion, since tooth surfaces might be weakened without being cracked or chipped.
Enamel’s chief ingredient is calcium phosphate, also known as hydroxyaptite. Products with high concentrations of calcium phosphate or with fluoride, a common additive, are best at helping teeth to remineralize naturally before damage exceeds the point of no return.
How to Stop Tooth Decay in Madison, WI: See a Dentist
Each day, there are many opportunities to combat tooth decay through brushing, flossing, using mouthwash and even changing diet habits. However, a dentist’s help can be essential in both protecting teeth and restoring those that have already sustained damage.
There are two popular options for rebuilding tooth structure:
- Tooth Bonding: Attaching tooth-colored composite resin to chipped or cracked areas
- Tooth Crown: Covering damaged enamel to protect it and strengthen the tooth overall.