Your smile depends on you to maintain habits that can protect them from damage and decay. While some of us are naturally born with more resilient teeth than others, that doesn't mean that things like acidic foods, sugary foods, and smoking won't eventually do some significant damage.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to protect your smile and proactively strengthen your teeth. Whether it's by avoiding foods and drinks that threaten oral health, treating dry mouth symptoms, or taking steps to strengthen tooth enamel, you can take action today to ensure the safety of your smile and your self-confidence for years to come.
What Is Tooth Enamel?
Tooth enamel is the hard outer protective layer on your teeth. It's so tough that it's considered to be the strongest substance in your entire body.
However, as strong as enamel is, there are harmful substances that can slowly wear away at it, ultimately resulting in tooth decay.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
It's easier toavoid cavitiesand all of the headaches that come with them if you know what causes them and why.
Eating Sugary or Starchy Foods
The most commoncause of tooth decayis eating starchy foods combined with poor oral hygiene.
When you eat starchy foods — or worse, sugary foods — the bacteria in your mouth feed on them and produce acids that slowly wear away at your tooth enamel. If you fail to brush away the bacteria's food supply regularly, then decay will occur.
Eating Acidic Foods
The damaging acid bacteria produce is not the only factor that can create cavities. You can skip a step and simply eat too many acidic foods without making sure to rinse and brush regularly. Eventually, the acid will wear away at your tooth enamel and cause cavities to develop.
Unfortunately, even some foods that are otherwise good for you can be acidic enough to do some damage if you're not careful about keeping your teeth strong.
Many acidic citrus fruits, for instance, are full of vitamins and nutrients. Fruit acids can even be great for your skin. However, you're still in danger of tooth decay from acid erosion if you eat them regularly.
You can still eat acidic fruits as long as you follow a good oral hygiene routine, especially if you also rinse your mouth directly after eating the fruit. It’s best to wait up to 30 minutes after eating acidic foods to brush your teeth to avoid additional erosion.
Another way that tooth decay, as well as tooth damage, can occur is through a tooth-grinding habit. Also known asbruxism, teeth grinding can be caused by stress, anxiety, or even certain medications, and it can occur during the day or while the person is asleep.
In either instance, the condition can wear down the teeth, which can leave them susceptible to decay.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Failing to brush and floss regularly and avoiding the dentist are the easiest ways to wind up with a cavity. Even if you have a fairly good diet low in starchy, acidic, or sugary foods, poor oral hygiene will still make your teeth susceptible to decay.
Tips for Keeping Your Teeth Healthy
If you're looking to strengthen your teeth and maintain that beautiful smile, there are plenty of things that you can do.
1. Reduce the Amount of Soda and Fruit Juice You Drink
Two of the most sugar-packed beverages you can consume are sodas and fruit juices. You don't necessarily have to remove them entirely from your diet. After all, some fruit juices have health benefits. However, if you want to maintain a healthy smile, you should reduce your intake of both. Take a close look at sports drinks, too. Many of them are loaded with sugar and acid.
2. Avoid Processed Foods
They may taste delicious, and they can be quite convenient in a pinch, but processed foods are almost always starchy and sugary. You know now how eating sugar and starch can elevate the levels of harmful acid in your mouth and result in cavities, so do your best to minimize these foods if you want to protect your smile.
3. Eat Plenty of Leafy Greens
You're probably already aware of the fact that foods like kale and spinach are good for you, but did you know that eating a diet rich in these plants can strengthen your teeth?
Leafy greens contain, among many other vital nutrients, magnesium and calcium. Both of these nutrients can strengthen enamel, so eat as much of them as you can.
4. Make Sure You Get Your Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps your body to absorb the nutrients needed to remineralize your teeth and provide you with healthier enamel. You can get this vitamin from several foods, and your body produces it when it's exposed to the sunshine, but you should also consider vitamin D supplements.
5. Use a Fluoride Toothpaste
One of the simplest yet most effective ways to strengthen weakened tooth enamel is by switching to a fluoride toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association.
Fluoride is amongthe best teeth-strengthening minerals
, and swapping toothpaste is all you need to do to enjoy its benefits.
6. Increase Saliva Production
This one may sound a bit unusual, but saliva actually helps to remineralize your teeth. Fortunately, there are plenty of activities that promote saliva production.
Chewing gum can help produce enough saliva to keep your teeth strong and prevent a dry mouth. Chewing gums can be loaded with sugar, though, so make sure to go with sugarless gum.
7. Get Treated for Teeth Grinding
If you have a consistent jaw ache and worn down teeth from bruxism, then cavities are likely just around the corner, so you'll want to speak with a doctor about treatment right away.
There are multiple ways to treat teeth grinding, including night guards and therapy. You should consider consultation with a sleep doctor since many cases of bruxism are related to sleep apnea. You may also need dental restorations if you have damaged or weak teeth due to your bruxism.
8. Maintain a Healthy Diet
A balanced diet is one of the simplest ways to keep your teeth strong and your entire body healthy. Many people benefit from eating healthy fats, probiotic-rich foods, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Eliminating refined sugar is also crucial.
Dairy can also be great for your teeth. Not all dairy products are healthy foods, of course, but plain yogurt, cheese, and milk are full of calcium and phosphates, both of which promote tooth remineralization.
9. Maintain a Good Oral Hygiene Routine
Brush twice a day (with proper brushing technique) and floss once a day, every single day. You should also rinse your mouth with water after eating anything particularly sugary or acidic. It does more than keep your teeth clean.
10. See Your Dentist Regularly
There's only so much you can do on your own. Your dentist can deep clean your teeth and perform routine exams that will help identify the warning signs of oral health issues before they have a chance to develop. See yours once every six months.
Here are some common questions regarding how to make your teeth stronger and prevent tooth decay.
Can You Rebuild Tooth Enamel?
Yes, it's possible to rebuild the enamel on your teeth, at least before tooth decay occurs. You can do this with fluoride products or by eating foods that contain nutrients like calcium and phosphorus.
How Do Probiotics Help Protect Teeth?
If you eat probiotic-rich foods, you can reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth that are liable to cause cavities. This is also helpful for anyone trying to combat gum disease.
What Are Some Ways to Increase the Production of Saliva?
Aside from sugarless gum, you can also reduce dry mouth (and promote healthy teeth) by drinking more water, reducing caffeine intake, and avoiding smoking or chewing tobacco.
What Kinds of Fruits Are Known for Damaging Tooth Enamel?
Citrus fruits are the most likely to cause damage to your teeth, but there are some other acidic fruits out there to look out for, like grapes, blueberries, and plums.
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By regulating your diet, sticking to a good oral care routine, and seeing your dentist regularly, you should have no problem keeping your teeth strong and your smile beautiful.
How can I make my tooth enamel stronger? ›
Eat More Enamel-Strengthening Foods
High-calcium foods both neutralize the acid that harms enamel and can help add minerals back into tooth surfaces. As the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests, dairy products are a great calcium source, but many vegetables also are calcium-rich.
Calcium helps keep tooth enamel strong. Calcium-rich foods include cheese, yogurt, sardines and salmon, seeds, beans and lentils, almonds, and whey protein. Eat salmon, milk, orange juice, mushrooms and other foods containing Vitamin D, as this important vitamin works with calcium to strengthen tooth enamel.Can you rebuild tooth enamel? ›
Once tooth enamel is damaged, it cannot be brought back. However, weakened enamel can be restored to some degree by improving its mineral content. Although toothpastes and mouthwashes can never “rebuild” teeth, they can contribute to this remineralization process.How can I rebuild my tooth enamel naturally? ›
Try non-acidic foods: Certain foods are good for your enamel. Many types of fruits and vegetables, dairy products such as milk, and foods or drinks containing fluoride – notably spinach, grapes and black tea – will be useful to naturally restore enamel.What causes weak enamel? ›
The third and by far the most common cause of enamel lack in both children and adults is simply enamel erosion. You're likely already familiar with the chief culprits behind enamel erosion in a kid's mouth: sugary drinks (including juice!), starchy or sugary snacks, poor brushing habits, and genetics.Why is my enamel so weak? ›
Causes of weakened enamel may include: Improper dental habits. Unhealthy diet, especially consuming overly-sugary or acidic foods and beverages. Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush.How do I stop my enamel from thinning? ›
- Eat acidic foods with meals. Instead of snacking throughout the day, save acidic foods for mealtimes. ...
- Wash down food and drinks with water. ...
- Use a straw. ...
- Try low or no-sugar drinks. ...
- Wait before brushing.
Once the tooth enamel has been damaged, there is no way to reverse the effects of tooth enamel erosion. Dr. Hoard does offer services like tooth bonding, dental veneers, and dental crowns to help treat the damaged tooth enamel.What vitamins help tooth enamel? ›
- Calcium. Calcium is one of the most important minerals for healthy teeth because it helps strengthen your enamel. ...
- Vitamin D. ...
- Vitamin C. ...
- Phosphorus. ...
- Vitamin A. ...
- Vitamin K.
As the enamel continues to erode, your teeth might turn a gray or yellowish color. If your teeth change shape, it's a good indicator that you have enamel damage. Your teeth may begin to appear rounded, develop ridges, and often the gaps between teeth will become more substantial.
Does Sensodyne really repair enamel? ›
Sensodyne Pronamel works by repairing tooth enamel and remineralizing each tooth deep within its surface, to protect from further damage and acid erosion.What regrows tooth enamel? ›
Tooth enamel is the hardest tissue in the body. Problem is, it's not living tissue, so it can't be naturally regenerated. Unfortunately, you can't regrow it artificially, either -- not even with those special toothpastes.What to do when enamel wears off teeth? ›
- Dental bonding: This procedure involves having a tooth-colored material applied to your teeth. This material hardens under a special light so it bonds permanently to your natural teeth. ...
- Dental crowns: If tooth enamel is severely eroded, Dr.
The number one cause of enamel erosion is damage from plaque and tartar. If you neglect good habits like brushing twice a day, plaque and tartar will build up on the surface of your teeth and eat away at your tooth enamel.What foods strengthen enamel? ›
- Dairy Products. Dairy products contain a high source of calcium for tooth enamel. ...
- Leafy Green Vegetables. ...
- Almonds. ...
- Canned Fish. ...
- Fortified Cereals.
Symptoms of thin enamel can be a translucent or clear appearance, white spots, tiny grooves or pits, sensitivity to hot or cold food/drink, tooth decay, and cavities.Can enamel be grown back? ›
Tooth enamel does not grow back, but it can be restored to some degree by remineralization. Using mineralized toothpaste and mouthwash can strengthen your remaining enamel as the minerals will be drawn to the weak spots in your teeth and bond with the surface.What is the fastest way to rebuild enamel? ›
Use fluoride treatment
Fluoride is tooth enamel's best friend, helping to strengthen and restore it after normal wear and tear. The best way to implement fluoride treatment while working to restore tooth enamel is to use a fluoride-based toothpaste and mouthwash.
Many fruits are high in acidity, including lemons, grapefruit, strawberries, grapes, and apples. The high sugar and acid content in soda makes it another huge contributor to enamel decay. Moderately acidic foods include pineapple, oranges, tomatoes, cottage cheese, maple syrup, yogurt, raisins, pickles, and honey.How do I stop my teeth from deteriorating? ›
- Brush with fluoride toothpaste after eating or drinking. ...
- Rinse your mouth. ...
- Visit your dentist regularly. ...
- Consider dental sealants. ...
- Drink some tap water. ...
- Avoid frequent snacking and sipping. ...
- Eat tooth-healthy foods. ...
- Consider fluoride treatments.
How can I restore calcium in my teeth? ›
Eat a Remineralization Diet
Certain foods can help remineralize the spots in your teeth that acidic foods and drinks have weakened. For example, foods rich in calcium (dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt) help put back minerals into the enamel, and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables encourage saliva flow.
Calcium. This mineral is perhaps the most important micronutrient for your oral health as it solidifies and strengthens the tooth enamel. We need calcium in our body for stronger bones and teeth.What are the signs of calcium deficiency in teeth? ›
Dental Concerns – weak roots, brittle teeth, tooth decay and irritated gums.Why am I losing enamel on my front teeth? ›
It could be the result of an acidic diet, medication side reactions or just vigorous brushing. Dry mouth, low salivary flow, diet high in sugar and starches, bruxism and friction, acid reflux disease, gastrointestinal problems and even genetics could also be blamed for enamel erosion.Is Pronamel better than Crest? ›
Treatment of erosive lesions with Sensodyne Pronamel resulted in statistically superior rehardening versus two Crest Pro-Health formulations containing stannous fluoride (SnF2) and sodium hexametaphosphate (NaHMP); the latter did not differ significantly from the fluoride-free negative control paste.Can coconut oil regrow teeth? ›
Next, not only is coconut oil unable to regrow your teeth, nothing can. And lastly, the key to healthy teeth and enamel is proper oral care. And that means regular brushing using a soft-bristle toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste, as well as flossing and dental checkups.How long does it take to rebuild enamel? ›
The remineralization process usually takes about three to four months to take effect. However, once you begin to better fortify your enamel, you may start to see stronger teeth, experience less sensitivity, and even reveal a whiter smile.What is the white mineral that restores teeth? ›
Calcium. No surprises here — calcium is well known to be great for your teeth.What is the fastest way to rebuild tooth enamel? ›
While the enamel can't grow back, it can be remineralized with special tooth repair kits. Certain toothpastes and dental products push calcium and phosphates back into the teeth and harden the enamel. Fluoride plays a powerful role by capturing the calcium and phosphates that acids draw out of the teeth.How long does it take to strengthen tooth enamel? ›
The remineralization process usually takes about three to four months to take effect. However, once you begin to better fortify your enamel, you may start to see stronger teeth, experience less sensitivity, and even reveal a whiter smile.