Tooth enamel is the hard, external layer of your teeth. Enamel plays a very important role in oral health since it protects the inner layers of your teeth, as well as guarding against tooth decay. While it’s true that enamel is an extremely strong and durable mineral – harder even that bone, in fact – it’s not indestructible. The enamel on your teeth can be worn away gradually over a period of years, which is usually the result of exposure to acidic foods and drinks. Unfortunately, once enamel is gone, it doesn’t grow back, so there is no actual remedy for eroded enamel. But you can take measures to prevent any further erosion, and/or to protect teeth after their enamel layer has been compromised. What follows are a few effective treatments for eroded enamel.
- Avoid acidic foods and drinks: As is almost always the case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Acidic foods and beverages are typically the main cause of eroded enamel, so you should avoid these whenever possible. Some examples include citrus fruits and drinks, wine, tea, berries, and vinegar-based salad dressings. Avoiding acidic foods and drinks won’t restore or strengthen your existing enamel, but it will at least slow down the erosion process.
- Fluoride: If your tooth enamel has been damaged or weakened, increasing your exposure to fluoride can be a good way of strengthening the enamel. This can be accomplished in several different ways, including using fluoride toothpastes and/or fluoride mouth rinses. Most dentists offer in-office fluoride treatments as well. But you should keep in mind that many municipal water supplies already contain fluoride, and exposing your teeth to too much fluoride can cause other problems, so you should ask your dentist about the best method of treating your eroded enamel with fluoride.
- Dental bonding or dental veneers: If your enamel is badly eroded, you should talk to your dentist about dental bonding and/or dental veneers. These treatments include applying a thin layer of bonding material or dental porcelain over the surface of the teeth. This not only protects the inner layers of the tooth; it can also restore the white appearance of the tooth surface. Once your teeth become eroded, they also turn a yellowish hue. And, unfortunately, regular whitening products don’t work on teeth with damaged enamel, so often the only way to restore the teeth to a whiter shade is with either bonding or veneers.
Damaged enamel may not be reversible, but there are ways to prevent your enamel from eroding any further, and there are ways to treat the erosion as well. Talk to your dentist for more information about which of these options would be best for you.