Despite its strength, tooth enamel can be eroded, and leave young teeth susceptible to oral disease. This can lead to tooth decay and cavities, and even affect how your child’s smile and bite develops. But, you can take some simple steps to keep their tooth enamel healthy, and help protect their teeth for years to come.
What is Tooth Enamel?
Tooth enamel is the first line of defense your teeth have against plaque and cavities. It is the white, visible part of the tooth and it is also the hardest part of the human body. When enamel is damaged, it can appear discolored and leave the affected teeth very sensitive.
What Harms Tooth Enamel?
Unfortunately, tooth enamel takes a lot of abuse to keep teeth healthy. There are many factors that cause enamel erosion, but most of the damage is done by the foods and drinks that you consume. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), soft drinks are the most frequent source of erosive acids, due to their high acidity and frequency of consumption. Other drinks like fruit juice, sports drinks and energy drinks can also damage your teeth through acidic erosion.
Tooth enamel can also be harmed by certain medications and medical conditions.
5 Ways to Protect Your Child’s Enamel
1 – Brush and Floss Regularly
Food debris left on your child’s teeth encourages bacteria growth that eats away at enamel and causes cavities. This is why it’s important to brush twice per day, for two minutes at a time, and floss once per day to clean debris from the hard-to-reach areas of their teeth.
2 – Drink More Water
Water is a fantastic tool in the fight against acid erosion. Water is not acidic, and does not harm tooth enamel. It also improves saliva production, which naturally cleans teeth of debris and restores the mouth back to a healthy ph balance. Try giving your child more water instead of sugary drinks to help keep their tooth enamel strong and healthy.
3 – Rinse after Meals
A great way to remove food debris from teeth is by rinsing immediately after meals. Have your child swish clean water in their mouth for 30 seconds, and then spit it out in a sink. This will help prevent acid attacks and enamel erosion.
4 – Avoid Sugary Foods and Drinks
Sugar feeds the bacteria on your teeth, causing plaque and ultimately cavities, which is why you should limit the number of sugary foods and drinks that you consume. Before buying snacks, check the back of the package for the amount of sugar contained in the package. Try to avoid sugary drinks like soda, fruit juice and sports drinks, all of which are notoriously high in sugar.
5 – Limit Citrus
Food and drinks high in citric acid erode tooth enamel in a process called demineralization. In bad cases of demineralization, acid will work its way to the soft layer beneath the enamel called the dentin. These advanced cases lead to tooth sensitivity and pain. If you consume anything with high citric acid, rinse with water for 30 seconds afterwards to clean away some of the lingering acid.
Is Your Child’s Enamel Healthy?
Visit our office so that we can evaluate your child’s overall oral health. We check and document the state of your child’s tooth enamel as a part of our regular checkups, and we will help give you and your child the knowledge necessary to keep a healthy, lifelong smile. Call us today to schedule your child’s first appointment, which will be relaxing and informal.