What Causes a Loss of Enamel?

Enamel is the thin, translucent, hard outer layer of the teeth that protects them from the daily stress of chewing, biting and grinding; temperatures of hot and cold foods and drinks; and erosive acids. Despite being the toughest tissue in your body, a variety of factors can cause enamel erosion, or loss of enamel. Loss of enamel increases teeth sensitivity, exposes stains on teeth, increases vulnerability to cavities and decay, and creates rough and irregular teeth edges and dents on teeth surfaces.

Erosive Acids

Enamel loss is primarily caused by erosive acids that wear away enamel over time. Excessive consumption of soft drinks, which contain high amounts of phosphoric and citric acids, and other acidic drinks and foods, such as fruit drinks and sour foods or candies, is the leading cause of acid-related enamel loss. Frequent consumption of medicines and supplements containing high acid content, including aspirin, antihistamines and vitamin C supplements, also cause enamel loss. Stomach acids brought up to the mouth from acid reflux disease, or heartburn, and other gastrointestinal problems can also erode enamel. This includes stomach acids brought up from frequent vomiting due to bulimia, alcoholism or binge drinking.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors in the mouth, or the physical wear and tear from daily friction and stress on the teeth, are another contributing factor of enamel loss. Environmental causes of enamel loss include friction from clenching or grinding your teeth, especially during sleep, and wear and tear from brushing your teeth too hard, improper flossing, biting hard objects or chewing tobacco. Stress fractures, or chips and cracks in the enamel, cause permanent enamel damage because enamel does not contain any living cells to help the body repair these fractures.

Low Saliva Production

Acid- and environmental-related enamel loss are even more likely if you have a dry mouth or low saliva production. Saliva strengthens both your teeth and their enamel by coating them with calcium and other strengthening minerals. Saliva also protects against enamel erosion by diluting and washing away erosive acids and other wastes leftover from foods and drinks and by producing substances that fight against mouth bacteria and disease that can cause enamel loss. While a healthy amount of saliva production can protect enamel from the erosive effects of acidic foods and drinks, excessive consumption of acidic foods and drinks decreases saliva production and saliva’s ability to strengthen teeth and enamel.

Plaque Build-Up

An excessive build-up of plaque can also contribute to enamel loss. Plaque is a thin, sticky coating made of saliva, food particles and bacteria that forms between teeth, inside holes or pits in your molars, and at the gum line. Some of the bacteria found in plaque can change food starches into acids that wear down enamel over time by eating away at its healthy minerals. As long as plaque continues to build up in your teeth, the acids in plaque will continuously erode enamel.

Three Easy Ways to Fend Off a Cold and Flu

1.   Focus on healthy lifestyle habits.

  • Get plenty of sleep. This is one of the most important habits to heed since sleep is the time when our bodies heal and recharge. You can’t expect your body to fight off cold and flu viruses with an empty gas tank. It’s crucial for adults to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and for kids to get 10-12 hours.
  • Wash your hands. Although we are surrounded by bacteria and viruses year round, we tend to be more susceptible during cold and flu season due to being indoors more, poor ventilation and being in close quarters with more people. Make sure you wash your hands regularly with a gentle germ-killing soap such as Dial® (it’s an antibacterial powerhouse). This is especially important after shaking hands or touching objects like phones and keyboards. And here’s an easy trick for making sure your kids spend enough time at the sink: Teach them to wash their hands for as long as it takes them to sing “Happy Birthday” or “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Bye-bye, germs!
  • Drink plenty of fluids and remain hydrated. Stick to beverages like filtered water and herbal teas to keep the immune system running smoothly.

2.   Keep your immune system robust through healthy nutrition.

Focus on foods like leafy green vegetables and low sugar fruits like dark berries. Avoid processed foods or any foods that come out of a box as well as high sugar foods like pastries, cookies and candy. If you need to satisfy that sweet tooth, opt for raw organic honey or 70 percent (or greater) organic dark chocolate.

3.   Stock your medicine cabinet.

As the old saying goes, “an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure.” Keep some vitamin C around so that if you do get sick, you can take 1 gram per day in order to boost your immunity. Stock your house, office and purse with Scotties® tissues to help aid sniffles, sore noses and those sneezes that sneak up on you! The last thing you want is to find yourself or your child with a runny nose and nothing but an old crumpled tissue at the bottom of your purse. And since one of the top reasons for missing work is due to parents taking care of sick kids, make sure you pick up some Triaminic® products at your local drugstore. If symptoms do arise in your little ones, it can help alleviate symptoms and make them feel better while they heal so you don’t have to miss too many days of work.

With these few easy steps, you’ll be sure to breeze through this cold and flu season.