Latest posts by Dr. Joshua Colkmire (see all)
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Enamel is an extraordinary substance that covers our teeth, and it’s in our best interest to preserve it and keep it thick and strong. Even though enamel is the hardest tissue in the human body, it can still get eaten away by certain things that we do, and the first step to protecting enamel is to understand the things that compromise it. In our last blog, we looked at two of the things that can cause enamel to wear down and become thinner, and today, we’ll look at two more.
You wouldn’t think that such tiny, microscopic organisms could wreak such havoc on teeth. After all, aren’t bacteria just soft little cells? How could they possibly do that much damage? Nevertheless, like the Lilliputians in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, who were only 6 inches tall but tied down a grown man due to their sheer numbers, the bacteria in your mouth pose a serious threat to your tooth enamel. Bacteria destroy teeth by a process called the “acid-decalcification theory,” which was first described in 1890 by W. D. Miller.
How it works
In simple terms, acid decalcification works like this:
- Bacteria feed off of sugars in your mouth.
- They metabolize and ferment these sugars, which produces acid.
- Acid strips your enamel of minerals, softening and weakening it.
Because bacteria are so tiny, they can do their destruction even in the thinnest cracks in your teeth that food cannot penetrate.
How to avoid it
You are always going to have bacteria in your mouth. There’s simply not an option to give your teeth a bacteria-free environment. Even if you swished your mouth with pure bleach (do NOT try that!), you would have bacteria back within a day, just by breathing, eating, and kissing. However, you can counteract bacteria’s ability to weaken your teeth.
- The more sugar in your mouth, the more food you’re giving those bacteria, so watch out if you’re sipping that sweet tea all day long. Reduce your consumption of sugary liquids, including fruit juice. When you do drink them, swallow them down quickly rather than sipping them slowly. Rinse your mouth out with clear water afterward for even better results.
- Use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride slows down the ability of acid to dissolve calcium phosphate, which is one of the major materials that builds your tooth enamel and dentin.
4. Unsafe Teeth Whitening Products
We’ve covered a few unsafe teeth whitening methods in the past, but it’s worth pointing out again that not all teeth whitening products are friendly to your tooth enamel. In fact, some of them get that pearly white shade at the cost of stripping your teeth of nearly all your enamel. You get a temporary beautiful white smile, but then it fades and you discover that your enamel is gone, too. Be very careful of DIY teeth whitening products, even if they’re approved by the FDA, because if you leave your teeth in the trays for too long, you can damage your teeth, sometimes permanently. Be sure to read and follow the directions precisely on any teeth whitening products, or better yet, get your teeth whitened professionally in our dental clinic.
Keep your teeth strong and healthy with regular checkups with Joshua Colkmire
Set your dental appointment in Sarasota today by contacting us. We look forward to serving you.