You may have noticed something about your teeth - that they're not as white as they used to be. If that's something you've considered improving, it's important to know what actually causes your teeth to yellow, how it can affect your dental health - and what you can do to protect your teeth.
The importance of your tooth's enamel
Tooth enamel is the thin, shiny, hard outer covering of your tooth that is white. Enamel is made up of approximately 96% minerals, primarily calcium and phosphorus, making it even stronger than bone, but contains no living cells - meaning it cannot regenerate. So if you want white, strong teeth, you should protect your enamel because once it's damaged, it's gone.
Teeth yellowing: Myth versus fact
If your teeth are looking yellow, you may think it is simply due to staining from common foods and drinks, such as coffee, wine, and green leafy vegetables - and that giving up those foods and drinks will alleviate the problem. However, what you may be seeing is actual erosion of your tooth enamel, which exposes the yellow layer underneath, called the dentin (dentin houses thousands of microscopic channels that run toward the center of the tooth, where the nerves live). Damage to the enamel of your teeth may be causing not just yellowing, but also tooth sensitivity, as the dentin is exposed.
How can you tell staining from enamel erosion?
While some foods and drinks can cause both staining and erosion, they are not the same.
* Staining will look like spotty dark discolorations on your teeth, caused by things like coffee, red wine, beets, tomato-based sauces or tobacco use.
* Enamel erosion appears more widely over the surface of your teeth, showing translucency, rounded edges, and a yellowish tinge. It is often accompanied by increased tooth sensitivity.
What you can do to protect your tooth's enamel
If you're concerned about your teeth, your first step should be to consult your dentist, who can help determine the health of your teeth and recommend next steps to protect them.
Here are other steps you can take to safeguard - and even actively repair - the all-important enamel of your teeth.
1. Brush with a toothpaste, which is specially formulated to protect teeth and strengthen enamel against the effects of acid erosion with twice daily brushing.
Twice daily brushing helps to:
* Protect enamel against the effects of acid erosion
* Strengthen and reharden enamel
* Clean effectively and freshen breath
* Provide cavity protection
* Maintain healthy teeth
* Provide sensitivity relief and lasting sensitivity protection
2. Speak with your dentist about recommended at-home whitening products.
3. Don't brush immediately after eating. According to the American Dental Association, it's best to avoid brushing your teeth right away after consuming acidic foods or drinks. Because acids in certain foods and beverages can weaken your tooth enamel, brushing too soon may actually remove enamel. Wait around a half an hour and/or rinse your mouth with water before brushing.
4. Limit exposure to foods or drinks that can cause enamel erosion including:
* Fruit juices, sodas, and sports drinks, which may contain damaging acids and sugar
* Foods such as citrus fruits, dried fruits, tomatoes, and sour candies
5. Practice good oral care. You can practice good oral hygiene by:
* Always brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
* Cleaning between your teeth once a day with floss or another interdental cleaner
* Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months
* Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks
* Schedule regular dental check-ups to keep your smile, and yourself, healthy
Protecting your teeth's enamel is a vital component of good oral health care. Visit Pronamel.us to learn more.
*With twice daily brushing
**Follow a healthy diet, brush twice daily for protection