Have you noticed your teeth thinning over time? When tooth enamel erodes, it gives way to darker layers of teeth underneath. This can happen because of the foods or drinks you ingest such as soda and citrus fruits. Morning sickness, bulimia, genetic conditions and more have side effects such as translucent teeth. This can also happen if you’re not taking care of your teeth as you should. With our help, you can learn how to avoid erosion and thinning teeth and can build your tooth enamel back up once more!
The Makeup of Your Teeth
There are various layers that make up your teeth and that are slightly different colors and strengths. Your teeth are made up of 96% mineral content, which makes them the hardest substance in your body—much more than your bones. That is only if you take care of all the layers of your teeth. It’s not like you can get inside of your tooth, so the tooth enamel is the layer you have to worry about the most.
Your tooth enamel is the hard, outer layer of the teeth. This has the most solid mineral content packed together, which makes them able to withhold up to 250 pounds of pressure in one bite. Just with that fact alone, your teeth are incredibly cool! Inside your tooth enamel, you have the dentin layer. This is a layer that is slightly yellower in color and, although very strong, it has tiny tubes in the layer that lead to the center of the tooth. That center is called the “pulp”. This is where the tooth’s blood vessels and nerves are found. When you have severe tooth decay, it means that part of your hard tooth enamel has decayed and made its way through the tubes in the dentin layer. Then, you start to get a toothache from infection and decay because that decay is affecting your tooth’s nerves.
Thinning Teeth: Why Does It Happen?
Over time, patients may find that their teeth seem to become more yellow, or they experience thinning teeth. In some patients, they can actually see the dentin layer of their teeth showing through the tooth enamel, which is why the teeth appear more yellow or gray. This change happens slowly over time. But why? It all depends on what you are eating, drinking, and how well you are taking care of your teeth.
- Eating: What you eat can make a big difference in how your teeth look. Acidic foods such as citrus fruits can be good for your health, but they can definitely harm your teeth. Citrus fruits contain citric acid. That acid can sit on your teeth and slowly wear away the tooth enamel layer. If you eat foods with various acids in them (always check food labels), then thinning teeth will happen over time.
- Drinking: In many cases, your drinks are the biggest culprits for thinning teeth. Countless drinks contain various acids in them which give them their flavor, carbonates them, and preserves flavor over time. Citric acid is in juices, sports drinks, sodas and more. Carbonic acid is in many beverages and is terrible for your teeth. This acid mixes with water to create the carbonation that so many people love. If you drink carbonated drinks, you are essentially coating your teeth in acid, which is why heavy soda drinkers experience thinning teeth and tooth decay often.
- Oral Hygiene: When you eat, sugars mix with mouth bacteria to create plaque. That sticky substance sticks to your teeth and, because it is acidic, it erodes away your tooth enamel. It does what acids do on your teeth. If you frequently skip on brushing and flossing your teeth, you will not only get weak and thinning teeth, but also tooth decay, gum disease and other oral health problems.
Making Changes to Your Routine
Patients that have thinning teeth may see visible signs like the discoloration we mentioned. However, sensitivity to hot and cold foods can also be a sign of thinning teeth. Your tooth enamel can also be damaged through injuries. Make sure to always seek the help of a dentist with any injury, as you don’t want bacteria and decay to get inside your tooth.
Make changes to your routine to stop your teeth from wearing away:
- If you drink sodas and juices often, cut back significantly or cut them out all together. Water and milk are the safest drinks to have for your teeth. Public water contains fluoride and milk contains many minerals that can strengthen your teeth. If you must drink water or juice, drink it with a straw to limit contact with your teeth.
- Wait 25-30 minutes after eating or drinking anything with citric or carbonic acids (carbonation) in them. If you brush immediately after, it can take even more tooth enamel off of your teeth because the acid is actively working on your teeth still.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Hard-bristled brushes can be harsh on your teeth and can take minerals off of them.
- Brush your teeth every day—at least twice a day—as recommended by the American Dental Association. When you brush, make sure to use ADA-approved toothpaste, brush for 2 minutes each time and cover all your tooth surfaces.
- Significantly reduce your sugar intake. Sugars and starches create plaque. The more you eat, the more you have on your teeth and the higher your risk for tooth decay and thinning teeth.
- See your dentist at least twice a year for dental cleanings and comprehensive exams. They can help stop thinning teeth and can provide cosmetic dentistry options to restore your smile.
To learn about porcelain veneers, teeth whitening and other cosmetic dentistry options we provide patients, call Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies today at (970) 223-8425!