Enamel: Your Teeth’s Natural Defense
Your teeth are protected by a hard shell. This coating is called enamel. To maintain a healthy smile, you need to protect your enamel from wear and acid erosion.
Facts About Foods and Teeth
Almost all foods contain some type of sugar. Certain germs in our mouths can create tooth-destroying acid when they combine with the sugar we eat. This acid can dissolve the enamel and lead to tooth decay.1
Some foods are acidic themselves.4 Juices, sodas, and sports drinks contain a lot of acid.1,3
Too much acid can damage teeth and erode tooth enamel. That’s why regular brushing is important.4
Other Factors That Harm Enamel
Some health conditions are also associated with erosion, or the wearing away of the tooth surface. These include:
Bulimia, an eating disorder that can involve repeated vomiting. The stomach acid in the vomit can destroy tooth enamel over time.2
Gastroesophageal reflux, or heartburn, during sleep.3
How to Safeguard Your Tooth Enamel
Try these tips to protect your enamel:
Choose a toothpaste that contains fluoride. This helps strengthen tooth enamel.5 Gently brush at least twice a day, paying special attention to your gum line.2
Floss at least once daily to clean between teeth and under the gum line.2
Try to limit between-meal snacks.2
Limit soft drinks and sports drinks. Drink plenty of water instead to keep the mouth moist.1,3
1 “Oral Health Topics A-Z. Diet and Oral Health. American Dental Association. www.ada.org/2984.aspx Accessed 2009.
2 “Oral Health Topics A-Z. Eating Disorders.” American Dental Association. www.ada.org/3104.aspx?currentTab=1 Accessed 2009.
3 “Erosion—Diagnosis and Risk Factors.” A. Lussi and T. Jaeggi. Clinical Oral Investigations. March 2008, vol. 12, no. 1 (suppl.), pp. 5-13. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2238777/?tool=pubmed Accessed 2009.
4 “ADA Seal of Acceptance Program.” American Dental Association. www.ada.org/sealprogramproducts.aspx Accessed 2009.