Many a toothpaste ad these days tells you about the need to keep your tooth enamel strong, but how many of us know what all weakens it in the first place?
Not many, according to survey results recently published in the BDJ.
Participants were given a list of “lifestyle habits,” which included things like drinking sports drinks or sparkling mineral water, acid reflux, bulimia, and snacking through the day. Only 22% knew that all of these can damage tooth enamel.
Yes, carbonated mineral water is acidic and quite harsh on enamel.
The survey also found that only 37% of participants could list all the signs of dental erosion: tooth sensitivity, thinning, yellowing, cracking, and transparency.
The trouble with enamel erosion is that once the enamel is gone, it’s gone for good. You can’t grow more of it. Once the teeth have developed, you no longer have the cells needed to create enamel.
And though the research on using stem cells to help grow new tooth structure looks promising, we are many years away from that becoming a reality any dentist can offer to patients.
The good news is that there’s plenty you can do to prevent erosion and support your body’s ongoing ability to remineralize your teeth naturally. A sample:
Nutrition is always key. Eat a diet based on whole and minimally processed foods. Limit sugars and refined carbs. Avoid soft drinks, fruit juice, and other acidic beverages.
Several nutrients are key to keeping enamel strong: calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and vitamins D3 and K. You don’t necessarily need to supplement, though. Most of these you can get from food, so you can include foods that are naturally rich in these compounds. (Follow the links above for info.) Your body can make D3 from exposure to sunlight.
Reach for the almond milk. As we saw last week, recent research suggests that it may support remineralization better than cow, soy, or oat milks. (Just be sure that if you do, you choose a brand with no added sugar or make your own.)
Try using a theobromine toothpaste. This compound derived from cocoa beans supports remineralization without fluoride.
Kick the bad habits and pick up healthy ones. Quit tobacco. Consume alcohol in moderation. Maintain an active lifestyle. Get enough good quality sleep each night.
While you can’t regrow enamel, you can protect what you have and work to prevent future decay.
Image by Lorenia