Tooth enamel is the thin, hard material on the surface of your teeth. It covers and protects the dentine, or main body, of your teeth. This week is Dental Health Week, so we share seven tips from the experts to help maintain your teeth enamel strength, which means you’ll get to keep your teeth for longer.
1. Limit sugary drinks and food
Sugar from foods and drinks feed the bacteria in your mouth and produce acids, which can soften and erode your enamel and lead to increased risk of tooth decay. Chewy candies that stick on your teeth can also cause damage, and soft drinks may have extra acids.
2. Rinse your mouth or chew gum
In addition to brushing twice daily and flossing at night, rinsing your mouth after meals with an antibacterial rinse or with water can help prevent tooth decay and gum problems. Chewing sugar-free gum after a meal also increases saliva production, which naturally washes bacteria away and neutralises acid.
3. Be wary of the dry mouth
Along with washing away food and bacteria, saliva can neutralise acidic foods – all of which can encourage cavities. If you suffer from dry mouth, drink more water to keep your mouth clean and moist. Some medical conditions and medicines can also cause dry mouth. So, talk to your doctor or dentist about how you can keep moisture in your mouth.
4. Eat smart
At every age, a well-rounded diet is essential to healthy teeth and gums. A varied diet of whole foods –including whole grains, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables and dairy products – will provide all the nutrients you need for your teeth enamel.
5. Don’t over-brush
Brushing too fast and hard can erode your tooth enamel. Use a brush with soft bristle, brushing with gentle strokes. It’s best to wait for up to an hour after eating sweets or citrus fruits before brushing, as these acidic or acid-creating foods can soften enamel, making it easier for you to damage your teeth.
6. Avoid teeth grinding
Some people grind their teeth, especially at night. Over time, this can wear down the enamel. If you’re a teeth grinder, talk to your dentist who may suggest a custom-fitted mouthguard to protect your teeth.
7. Have regular check-ups
Dentists recommend that you visit them every six months for a check-up and cleaning, as this is when they can spot any problems, such as cavities or tooth grinding, before they do a lot of damage. Your dentist may also check whether you’re getting the right amount of fluoride to harden and protect enamel.