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Dean George is the Marketing Specialist and Content Creator for Dental Insurance
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5 "Eroders" of Tooth Enamel

Mar 11, 2014

By Dean George

“Scattered x-rays, of the smiles we left behind; smiles we gave to one another, for the way we were.” - The Way We Were 1973

The question today is not the way we were, or how Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford were way back when, but where were we last week?  Ahh, I remember. Previously we looked at tooth enamel and the symptoms of damaged tooth enamel. 

This week we want to focus on specific causes of tooth enamel erosion and how we can protect our teeth from their arch nemesis, the enamel eroders.

Despite a national economic recovery that makes Ghana and Guinea look like good investment bets, America remains a land of plenty. That is, we have plenty to eat and drink. Unfortunately a lot of what we eat and drink is high in sugar and acid.

We also have ready access to miracle medications that may help treat a health condition, but often are hard on teeth. Lastly, some of us have other health conditions that decrease saliva production and increase oral acidity – before we even take the medications to treat the former that might make the latter worse.

Below are 5 factors that can strip tooth enamel. Beware: these aren’t “possible” enamel eroders, but rather are proven culprits that can harm your teeth and forever separate you from that thin tooth covering enamored by dentists and healthy teeth everywhere.

The Power of Sour Carbonated drinks, fruit juices and energy drinks can strip enamel faster than a teenage growth spurt! The acid from fruit juices and energy drinks cling to your teeth, fostering demineralization of the healthy tooth structure. As the acid gnaws on the enamel between brushing, gargling and teeth cleanings, it exposes the tooth’s underlying nerve center of dentin, dental pulp and cementum, creating tooth sensitivity and transmitting an oral message to “knock it off.”

And that’s just the drinks! Foods high in starch and sugar that make up much of our modern diet contain the harmful bacteria that create plaque. Once that bacterium penetrates to the tooth’s nerve center, fillings, root canals and dental crowns are the likely result. While it’s true that tooth dentin has the ability to regenerate, enamel doesn’t. Enamel has a “now you see it, now you don’t” quality – if we are irresponsible about what we put in the ol’ pie hole and neglect our oral hygiene.

Medications As we’ve said before in this space, there seem to be apps for everything these days. The same goes for medications. For instance, antihistamines may be great for treating colds and allergies, but their acid level can intensify when they come in contact with the surface of the teeth. Ditto for helpful meds like aspirin and vitamin C tablets. The benefits of prescribed meds may have you whistling awhile about feeling better, but the acid content of those same meds may later have your mouth whistling in dark, empty spaces unless you drink water frequently or chew sugar-free gum to counter the acid’s harmful effects. Many medications can also lead to what lurks behind Door #3…

Xerostomia No, this isn’t a mystery planet from Star Trek or a new copier from Xerox. Xerostomia is abnormal dryness of the mouth caused by decreased saliva production.  Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation sometimes experience this, as do people on certain medications. 

The danger from a dental standpoint is that saliva helps neutralize oral acid by washing away harmful bacteria. Because those that have dry mouth produce little or no saliva, there is nothing to wash away the bad bacteria other than drinking water. And unlike camels, there’s only so much water any of us can drink before we become slosh pits of H²O and wear out the path to the bathroom.

Disease Xerostomia is just one of many diseases that can make life tough on tooth enamel. Bulimia, acid reflux, alcoholism, pancreatitis, gastritis, peptic ulcers and any disease that results in regular vomiting can wear through tooth enamel by increasing mouth acidity.

Environment Okay, we’re not talking climate change or save-the-rain-forest-type environment. Habits like brushing too hard, grinding and clenching teeth or chewing on things your dentist warned you about: tooth culprits like ice cubes and popcorn kernels, using your teeth as a bottle opener, or chewing on erasers to get to the non-existent chocolaty-center all affect your oral environment. (Chewing yourself out for not having a good dental plan or missing a dental visit is perfectly fine.)

Remember that while enamel is considered the hardest substance in our bodies, it’s also quite thin and almost entirely inorganic. Meaning that you have about as much chance of growing more enamel as I do of growing to 6’5”, enjoying a 48” vertical jump and making the NBA playoffs.

Fortunately, finding an affordable dental plan here to help with regular enamel inspections at a local dentist is not only likely, it’s simple: just click here.

Thanks for reading Agent Straight-Talk, and we invite you to follow us on FacebookTwitterPinterestGoogle+, and LinkedIn for more dental derring-do and adventures.

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Copyright 2014, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC        

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