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What Is Enamel Loss?

Just when you thought you knew all your health risks, you started hearing news from recent dental studies and professional journals that enamel loss is a growing concern. You may have reacted the same way I did: why didn’t I know about this?! I thought that I was doing well with my twice daily brushing and flossing, but it turns out that enamel loss (unlike dental caries or “cavities”) is linked to acids in common food and beverages. While it’s not surprising that sodas, coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages are on the list of beverages that can damage your enamel, many people are surprised to learn that healthy foods and drinks such as, fruit, yogurt, orange juice and sports drinks, are highly acidic and can also contribute to enamel loss.

Not only did I not know until recently that I had to be concerned about enamel loss, but I didn’t know that this problem is irreversible. Even worse, enamel loss can contribute to larger issues such as dental cavities, tooth sensitivity, or the need for procedures such as veneers, dentures and even oral surgery. The good news is that this is preventable with a two pronged approach. As with most medical issues, primary prevention is preferable. Limiting the ingestion of sodas and coffee is not only good for your dental health, but your overall health as well. If you are drinking acidic beverages, using a straw will help reduce their exposure to your teeth. Interestingly, drinking colder beverages slows their erosive potential.

While most teeth will benefit by avoiding other acidic foods as well, we want to be sure that most adults still get to enjoy their five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Brushing twice daily with toothpaste specifically designed to prevent enamel loss will allow you to do that and help save your enamel. We’ve known for years about the role fluoride plays in making teeth more resistant to cavities. We now know that while cavities are caused by exposure to relatively low concentrations of acids over a longer period of time, erosion is caused by a high concentration of multiple acids over a shorter period of time. Brushing before you expose your teeth to dietary acids with fluoridated toothpaste will give them an immediate protective layer that will help protect them throughout the day. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing 30 to 60 minutes after an acid challenge as well.

How can a toothpaste help strengthen your enamel? Crest Pro-Health Enamel Shield toothpaste works to protect against enamel loss in three ways. First, it is the only OTC leading toothpaste to include stannous fluoride (most other toothpastes include sodium fluoride), which binds to enamel to create a micro-thin shield against acid attack. In addition to binding to the enamel to create this thin protective shield, Stannous Fluoride helps kill acid-producing bacteria. Finally, stannous fluoride helps re-mineralize teeth to strengthen the enamel.

For more information on dental health, click here.

Created: 7/4/2009  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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