Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. That being said, it can be damaged or worn away. The 3 main causes of tooth wear are abrasion, attrition, and erosion.
Abrasion of tooth enamel occurs primarily from over-aggressive teeth brushing, and is most noticeable at the gum line where the enamel is the thinnest. To avoid abrasion, use a soft or extra-soft bristled toothbrush, replace your tooth brush or electric toothbrush head every 3 months, and use proper brushing techniques like angling the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to the teeth , moving the brush in a circular motion, and using light pressure.
Erosion of tooth enamel is a result of an acidic diet or stomach acids due to conditions such as gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD. Acidic foods such as energy drinks, sodas, citrus fruits, and even purified water! Eroded enamel becomes thin, weak, and susceptible to fracture or decay. To avoid erosion, avoid foods that are highly acidic, chew sugarless gum after meals and snacks, and consult with your physician if you feel you may have GERD.
Attrition of tooth enamel is the result of excessive tooth contact due to clenching and grinding that occurs mostly during sleep as well as habits like nail biting. Attrition mainly affects the biting surfaces of the teeth but can also cause notching and pitting of the teeth at the gum line as well. This notching and pitting of the enamel can lead to sensitivity, tooth decay, and fracture or chipping of the teeth. In most cases, the best solution is a professionally fitted nightguard that protects teeth while sleeping, as well as avoiding habits like nail biting or using your teeth for anything other than eating.
Once your tooth enamel is lost, it’s gone forever. Making a few small lifestyle changes today can protect your tooth enamel for a lifetime and help keep your smile happy and healthy.
Photo Credit: Dental Care Matters