Many of our health-conscious patients ask us questions about whether teeth whitening and can damage tooth enamel. Below, our Mississauga dentists discuss teeth-whitening procedures and whether or not they pose a risk to dental health.
What is tooth enamel?
If you begin to notice a yellow tint in your teeth, you may be wondering whether a teeth whitening treatment is right for you. If you are concerned about the procedure damaging your teeth, read on below.
Tooth enamel is the thin outer layer of the tooth. Visible from the gum and covering the crown, the tooth's hard outer surface is its first defense against harm. Because enamel protects the inner portion of the tooth, it is prone to wear and tear, and can eventually break down. Exposure to sugar, starches, or acidic substances is the leading cause of enamel breakdown.
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 preserve your dental enamel is to maintain a thorough oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily to remove plaque buildup that can eat away at your enamel. If you're extra concerned, you can talk to your dentist about enamel-strengthening products, like toothpaste and mouthwash, to help keep erosion at bay.
What are some signs of enamel erosion?
Some of the more common signs of enamel erosion include sensitivity to some foods, sensitivity to hot and/or cold, discolouration, rough or jagged teeth, and indentations on the surface of your teeth.
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.