At Kids Smiles Pediatric Dentistry, we not only monitor the growth and development of tiny smiles and physically work to keep them healthy; but, we also strive to educate our parents and patients. Parents and guardians are predominantly responsible for the shopping and preparation of foods and beverages for their children, so it’s important that they know which drinks may cause damage to their little one’s smiles. They also have an even more difficult job – setting the proper example.
Let’s dive into all-things-enamel. We’ll discuss:
- What is enamel?
- Can enamel grow back?
- Which drinks are most harmful to enamel?
- How do I help my child protect their enamel?
What is tooth enamel?
Tooth enamel is the outer surface of teeth that serves as a protective barrier for the softer inner layers, especially the dentin. Enamel is super tough, even though it appears smooth and pearly. However, certain bacteria and acids are even stronger than enamel and can start to deteriorate enamel over time!
A lot of these harmful acids come are found in beverages, because liquids easily coat the teeth and penetrate between them. A few items like coffee and alcohol are not on the pediatric list, but parents, those drinks can be harmful when left on teeth! Here’s a list of liquids that damage tooth enamel:
- Soft Drinks
- Sports Drinks
- Energy Drinks
- Fruit Juices
- Sour Candy
- Citrus and Berries
- Tomato Sauce
Is eating ice bad for teeth?
Ice alone isn’t dangerous, but children should be taught not to chew ice. Eating ice puts unnecessary pressure on teeth, and can lead to cracks in the enamel.
Can enamel grow back?
Since tooth enamel doesn’t contain living cells, it cannot regenerate or fix itself naturally. Although you can’t repair the enamel, you have the power to aid your teeth in remineralization. Remineralization involves replenishing some of the minerals in your enamel, which helps to recover some of the protection it lost!
Eating foods rich in calcium, like milk and cheese, and also foods with phosphates, like lean meats, eggs, and nuts can give your enamel the minerals it needs to become strong again. This is why we recommend brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste too! Fluoride helps reinforce the minerals in your enamel, creating stronger teeth.
How to strengthen enamel
1. Avoid brushing teeth right after consuming acidic beverages.
If your child consumes anything acidic, they should avoid brushing their teeth for at least 30 minutes. Food and drinks containing citric acid, like oranges, grapefruits and lemons, weaken tooth enamel. Brushing too soon after eating them can damage the enamel in its weakened state.
2. Rinse your mouth with water.
Rinsing with water is a good practice! After drinking acidic beverages, drink some water and swish it around your mouth to ‘unstick’ the acids from your teeth. This prevents the acids from doing prolonged damage on your teeth.
3. Don’t skip dentist visits!
We’re here to help your child maintain beautiful, healthy teeth for a lifetime! At his or her regular check-ups and exams, we’ll assess the enamel, provide you with all of the tips you and your little one need to remineralize or protect their enamel, and help you make informed decisions about their smile!
Dr. Frank Sierra adds, “Most parents know that sugar, sodas, and energy drinks are dangerous to enamel. Knowing to be cautious with healthy fruit (like oranges) is also a good lesson!”
In the meantime, check out our infographic about the rule of 2’s for healthy teeth! These rules can help to combat the enamel damage all year round.
Still have questions about protecting enamel?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions about protecting tooth enamel, or any of our pediatric dental treatments. Schedule an appointment with our pediatric dentist in South Tampa, North Tampa, Town ‘n’ Country or Bradenton today.