Taking care of your teeth isn’t just child’s play — you can continue to strengthen our smiles all through adulthood. The key to keeping your teeth strong? Pay attention to the outer surface, called the enamel, which protects your teeth from decay.
Of course, regular brushing and flossing are very important, but diet and certain health conditions can have an impact on tooth health and strength, too.
If you’re wondering how to restore tooth enamel or looking for ways to rebuild enamel on your teeth, you might be out of luck. Enamel is the hardest material in the body, but it’s not living tissue. Once enamel is lost, cracked or chipped, it can’t be repaired. The good news is, your enamel can be made stronger. Simply follow our five tips for protecting your teeth.
Avoid Foods That Harm Your Teeth
Most of us learn in childhood that candy and other sweets are bad for our teeth. That’s because sugar feeds bacteria that create acid that harms tooth enamel. Starchy foods, like chips and soft bread, can get stuck between your teeth and convert to sugar, feeding the same bacteria. Sour candy combines sugar with citric acid, which puts the enamel at even greater risk. You can check the American Dental Association’s MouthHealthy guidelines for some surprising other foods can damage your teeth.
Eat More Enamel-Strengthening Foods
Tooth enamel is made from minerals like calcium that also help make your bones stronger. High-calcium foods both neutralize the acid that harms enamel and can help add minerals back into tooth surfaces. As the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests, dairy products are a great calcium source, but many vegetables also are calcium-rich. Soybeans in edamame and tofu, broccoli rabe, kale and other leafy greens are leading non-dairy options for adding calcium to your diet.
And don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Water helps boost your saliva levels, and saliva is how calcium transfers to your teeth.
Practice Proper Brushing
Technique is important to make the most out of tooth-brushing. First, the Mayo Clinic recommends you wait at least a half-hour after eating sweets or citrus, so you aren’t simply grinding acid into your teeth. The American Dental Association recommends choosing toothpaste with fluoride, which helps teeth resist acid from foods and bacteria. Use a soft-bristle brush at about a 45-degree angle, and don’t brush too forcefully so you don’t damage your gums.
Stop the Grind
Chronic teeth grinding can fracture, chip and loosen teeth, and can even lead to losing teeth entirely. If you grind your teeth at night, you might not notice the problem right away. Possible solutions include a fitted mouth guard you can wear when you sleep. If stress is a cause, muscle relaxants or an exercise plan might help. Talk to your dentist as soon as you notice this issue to prevent further tooth damage.
Don’t Forget Your Dental Checkups
See your dentist every six months for a regular cleaning and checkup to catch dental problems before they cause real damage. Also, during these exams you can get answers to any questions you have about brushing, flossing and the right diet decisions to ensure your teeth stay strong