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When many people think about dental damage, they think about sudden, traumatic damage that occurs due to vehicular or sport-related accidents. Undoubtedly, this type of dental damage is very serious and needs to be quickly addressed. However, many of the most common dental problems with which patients deal are actually the result of day to day wear and tear, rather than a sudden trauma. Today our Saint Louis dentists are going to be talking more about one seemingly banal threat to your oral health, acid erosion. 

Foods and drinks that contain a lot of acid coat your dental enamel and go to work weakening your enamel. A number of popular foods and beverages, like citrus fruits, fruit juices, soft drinks, and wine, contain appreciable amounts of acid.

Immediately after enamel is exposed to an acidic substance, the enamel is temporarily softened. During this period of time, your dental enamel is more susceptible to wearing away, as well as developing cracks and chips. Saliva helps your enamel to toughen up again once you’re done eating or drinking.

There are a number of simple steps that you can take in order to protect your smile day to day:

  • Try to consume acidic substances in short, defined periods of time. When you snack or sip on these things all day, your enamel is soft for long periods of time.
  • Get into the habit of rinsing your smile with water after eating or drinking. This not only rinses away acidic debris, but it also prompt saliva production.
  • Refrain from brushing your teeth or using toothpicks for about 20 to 30 minutes after you finish eating or drinking. In this timeframe, your enamel is most vulnerable.

Proper at-home and professional oral hygiene care will also help you avoid acid-related damage over time. As always, our Saint Louis dentists are here to answer any questions that you may have, and to help you build a personalized dental health plan.

In general, dental patients know that they are supposed to be brushing and flossing to care for their smiles. However, many people don’t fully understand how oral health threats can change your teeth. That is why, today, our Saint Louis dentists are giving you some more information about the properties of dental enamel, and what you can do to keep your enamel healthy and strong for as long as possible.

As you may already know, dental enamel is the outermost covering of your tooth—it’s the white and bright layer that shows when you smile! Dental enamel is designed to protect the more vulnerable inner layers of the tooth, called the dentin and dental pulp.

Because dental enamel does not have any nerves in it, you are able to chew and drink comfortably. Additionally, dental enamel helps to keep dental debris and bacteria from infiltrating the tooth. 

While it is strong and durable, dental enamel is not indestructible. Certain habits, substances, and accidents can damage dental enamel and subsequently put the patient’s entire tooth at risk.

  • Acidic substances weaken and thin enamel over time
  • Habits like chomping on ice and hard candies can cause cracks and chips in the enamel
  • Oral bacteria can infiltrate the enamel and cause spots of decay that serve as pathways to the inner tooth layers
  • Chronic dental grinding—bruxism—leads to thinning enamel as well as cracks and chips in the dental structure

In order to keep your enamel strong and healthy it is vital that you seek prompt treatment for any dental health issues you may notice, including bruxism. Make sure to follow your dentist’s recommendations regarding caring for your smile at home and professionally. And, wait 20 to 30 minutes after consuming something acidic to brush your teeth—your enamel is softer and more vulnerable during this period of time.

As always, our Saint Louis dentists are happy to provide you with any additional information and guidance that you may need. Give us a call to get started!

Bad breath is a very real and persistent problem for many dental patients. If you’ve dealt with it, then you already know that it can negatively impact your social life and your self-confidence. However, not all bad breath is the same. Our Saint Louis dentists are here to help you learn more about the causes of bad breath, so that you can address it in your own life, if necessary.

It is normal for people to temporarily experience bad breath after consuming an odorous food or drink. Garlic and onions, for example, are key causes of bad breath. In general, you’ll need to wait for these foods to pass through your system and for the odors to abate naturally. You can speed up this process by consuming a lot of water, and cleaning your smile thoroughly.

If you are plagued with chronic bad breath, however, a greater health risk may be to blame. The oral bacteria that cause cavities as well as gum disease also emit unpleasant odors as they grow and multiply. If you find it difficult to freshen your breath no matter what you do, it may be because you have entrenched oral bacteria, existing cavities, and gum disease.

In these cases, it is crucial that patients complete professional dental cleanings to help get their smiles back on track. During your cleaning our team will clear away accumulated plaque and tartar. Then, if we find any existing infections, we’ll recommend treatments to eliminate cavities, and help your gum tissue heal and regenerate.

Treating the underlying cause of chronic bad breath can make a huge difference to your life and your oral health. Keep in mind that sugary gums and mints can actually compound the issue over time, so talk to your dentist as soon as you notice chronic bad breath. 

Our Saint Louis dentists are happy to give you any additional information you may need, and to walk you through your treatment options!

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