Thinning enamel can be caused in various ways. Here a few things that cause or contribute to it and some tips to help avoid them:
- Acid erosion- enamel is a very hard substance, but acid weakens the chemical bonds that hold the mineral molecules together. Among the sources of acid erosion are soft drinks and fruit drinks, which contain such substances as phosphoric acid and citric acid. Such acids directly threaten your teeth, but drinking through a straw can help minimize the exposure by bypassing your teeth rather than dousing them. Any drink with a low Ph is acidic and can have the effect of weakening the enamel. Sugary and starchy foods also result in exposure of the teeth to acid because the sugars and starches are converted into acid by the bacteria that live in our mouths. Proper and diligent brushing and flossing are important to help keep these bacteria in check.
- Brushing with abrasives- abrasives literally scrape enamel off of your teeth, like sandpaper. Many so-called “whitening” toothpastes contain abrasives that constantly remove tiny layers of enamel over time and can result in thinning. Your toothbrush itself can harm your teeth if you are brushing too hard and/or using bristles that are not soft enough. Many people make the mistake of thinking that brushing well means using force and really scrubbing, but a soft brush used gently at a 45-degree angle for 2 minutes is sufficient to remove plaque and reduce bacteria populations.
Of the many potential causes of thinning enamel, these above are the most common. Other common factors include GERD or acid reflux, medications that cause dry mouth, and bruxism. Once the enamel has worn away it cannot be reversed, but if you avoid the contributing factors above you can help prevent it from progressing, and using a remineralizing toothpaste can also help protect and preserve the enamel that you have left. At Mall of Georgia Dentistry, we have a few different products available that might benefit you if thinning enamel is a concern of yours.
They say “knowledge is power”… if you are aware of some of these common causes of thinning enamel, you can be empowered with the steps to take for avoiding them. Healthy teeth make for a lifetime of confident smiles, and caring for your enamel is essential to great dental health.