What is enamel?
Enamel is a clear, hard layer of mineral that coats teeth to protect them from daily damage. Because of enamel, our teeth are not easily damaged from chewing and grinding. It prevents tooth pain by shielding your child’s teeth from hot or cold drinks and food.
What is enamel erosion?
Enamel erosion occurs when acid damages the protectant layers of enamel. Every time your child drinks or eats something acidic, the enamel becomes a bit softer and losses some of its mineral content. Saliva usually helps to break down harmful acid and bacteria that cause erosion. However, if your child eats too many acidic foods on a daily basis, the saliva in their mouth will not have enough time to do its job and small pieces of enamel will be brushed away.
What causes enamel erosion?
There are two main causes : acidic and sugary foods.
The worst culprit in children’s diets is soft drinks or juice with a high sugar content. The sugars in these drinks are destructive to your child’s teeth and will contribute to erosion and decay. Beware of the several different names for sugar – all of which are damaging to the teeth. Some examples are fructose, honey, glucose and corn syrup.
Some babies may experience it if their mother had a poor diet during pregnancy or because of other genetic reasons.
The following symptoms may be warning signs of enamel erosion:
- Pain when eating hot, cold or sweet food and drink
- Rough or uneven edges of the teeth (which may be prone to crack or chip)
- Discoloration and thinning
- Dulling of the teeth
- Hollows on the tooth surface and biting edges
- Exposed dentine (the darker, yellow colour under the enamel)
How can I prevent enamel erosion for my child?
The most important rule to prevent enamel erosion is to feed your child a healthy and balanced diet with minimal sugary/acidic drinks and foods. If you give your child a sugary drink or food, serve it with a meal and encourage them to rinse their mouth after eating. Drinking through a straw is also helpful because liquid will be pushed to the back of the mouth, minimizing contact with the teeth and reducing possible damage.
Plain non-carbonated water or milk are best for enamel health. Milk and other dairy products form a sticky film over teeth to counteract acid in our mouths.
You may consider asking one of our dentists if they would recommend a fluoride treatment. This painless treatment will help your child build stronger teeth.
Is enamel erosion repairable?
No. Enamel is a mineral, meaning the body cannot grow it back. Once it has been damaged through erosion, that loss is permanent. Remember, prevention is always better than correction.
Are you worried your child may be experiencing enamel erosion? Book an appointment with our pediatric dental specialists at one of our three locations:
Markham 905.294.0995 | Richmond Hill 905.709.3888 | Stouffville 905.642.3642