If you notice a yellow tint in your teeth, you might be wondering if a teeth whitening treatment is right for you. If you're worried about the procedure harming your teeth, keep reading.
What is tooth enamel?
Tooth enamel is the tooth's thin outer layer. The tooth's hard outer surface, visible from the gum and covering the crown, is its first line of defence against harm. Enamel is prone to wear and tear and can eventually break down because it protects the inner portion of the tooth. The most common cause of enamel breakdown is exposure to sugar, starches, or acidic substances.
Can I stop my enamel from breaking down?
Enamel is tough, but it's not indestructible. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to help slow or even halt the process of enamel breakdown.
One of the simpler ways to curb enamel breakdown is to stop eating and drinking sugary and/or acidic beverages. When these sugary drinks interact with the tooth, they produce a lactic acid that can chip away at the enamel over time.
Even having acid reflux, a dry mouth, or being on medications can sometimes cause tooth enamel to break down. Visiting your doctor to have health issues like these diagnosed and treated, and learning about the potential side effects of medications you are taking, are important steps in protecting your enamel, and your overall health too!
Friction caused by teeth grinding, brushing too hard, or eating hard foods can also damage tooth enamel. If you grind your teeth, talk to your dentist about a nightguard. Be sure to brush your teeth slowly and carefully, using a circular rather than a sawing motion. And if you have a habit of chewing on things like pen caps, ice, or your fingernails, start working on breaking it!
Finally, the most important thing you can do to protect your dental enamel is to practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day to remove plaque buildup, which can erode your enamel. If you're particularly concerned, you can consult your dentist about enamel-strengthening products such as toothpaste and mouthwash to help prevent erosion.
What are some signs of enamel erosion?
Sensitivity to certain foods, sensitivity to hot and/or cold, discoloration, rough or jagged teeth, and indentations on the surface of your teeth are some of the more common signs of enamel erosion.
Will teeth whitening damage my enamel?
When applied under the supervision of a dental professional or by their direction, teeth whitening treatments should not damage your enamel.
That being said, if used in excess or incorrectly, teeth whitening agents can be damaging to your enamel, so always take extra care to follow your dentist's directions when using your at-home teeth whitening trays. If you have questions, be sure to contact your dentist.