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Pain-sensitive teeth: 8 tips for strong tooth enamel

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  • What are the causes of pain-sensitive teeth?
  • What happens when tooth enamel breaks down?
  • Can tooth enamel rebuild?
  • How can you strengthen enamel?
  • Is fluoride harmful?

Your tooth enamel does hard work every day. Thanks to it, you can eat even a tough piece of meat or grit your teeth during a workout. Tooth enamel is the hardest material in the body, and with proper care it stays that way.

However, if you neglect your tooth enamel, it will eventually become thinner or even break off. This damage can no longer be reversed and even small things like a cold drink or an apple suddenly cause pain. Diseases such as tooth decay can also attack the tooth much more quickly. So that this doesn’t happen to you, we’ll show you how you can strengthen your tooth enamel.

What are the causes of pain-sensitive teeth?

The outer layer of the tooth, also called the enamel, consists of a lattice-shaped compound of calcium and phosphate called hydroxyapatite. It’s pretty robust, but it has an archenemy: acid. An acidic pH value occurs in the mouth especially when you eat acidic or carbohydrate-rich foods. “This removes minerals from the tooth enamel and the lattice of the tooth enamel softens,” explains dentist Julia Seidler from the Berlin Dental Center. This makes it much more susceptible to external stress, for example when chewing or brushing your teeth.

But it’s not just food that can make saliva more acidic. In around 20 percent of Germans, gastric juice runs up the esophagus while sleeping and ends in the mouth. “This reflux disease damages the mucous membranes and teeth because they are exposed to stomach acid for hours,” explains Dr. Seidler.

Time also leaves its mark. Whenever you eat or brush your teeth, your teeth rub against each other, causing minimal abrasion. This isn’t a big deal, but if, for example, you grind your teeth due to stress or use a toothbrush that’s too hard, this abrasion can become too severe and cause problems such as increased sensitivity to pain.

What happens when tooth enamel breaks down?

If tooth enamel is not properly cared for, it becomes increasingly soft and thin. If you then eat something hard, the layer can become scratched or even chip. This means that the sensitive dentin is less protected from temperature fluctuations or acidic foods. If your teeth come into contact with it, you will feel a nasty pain that can extend into your jaw.

In addition to the sensitivity to pain, the tooth is then more susceptible to diseases such as tooth decay because bacteria can nest better in the soft and roughened tooth enamel. In the worst case scenario, you will get a so-called Tooth enamel hypoplasiain which your tooth enamel has deteriorated so much that your teeth become dull and shiny and you experience severe pain.

Can tooth enamel rebuild?

“There are neither nerves nor blood vessels running through the enamel, similar to fingernails,” explains the dentist. Therefore, the enamel cannot regenerate itself. In contrast to the nails, the layer does not grow back. Once something is broken, it can no longer be repaired. In such cases, only the dentist can try to rebuild the affected areas, for example with fillings or crowns. Only when the tooth enamel is softer but not yet worn away can you strengthen it again with the right care.

These tips will help protect and strengthen tooth enamel:

Toothpaste especially for weakened tooth enamel and for hypoplastic teeth (chalk teeth), e.g. Sensodyne ProSchmelz. The Ompti-Enamel toothpaste from Elmex also promises to seal the teeth with minerals and thus strengthen the tooth enamel. Also available in organic quality, for example from Lavera.

Ideally, daily tooth brushing should be supplemented once a week with an enamel-strengthening gel, such as Elmex Jelly, which has a protective effect on sensitive teeth and tooth necks. If you have sensitive teeth and tend to brush your teeth vigorously, you should choose a soft toothbrush, such as Curaprox or Meridol, to protect tooth enamel.

How can you strengthen enamel?

The good news: It’s not that difficult to keep your tooth enamel healthy. “The most important thing is that the enamel is not exposed to an acidic pH value for too long and unnecessary abrasion is avoided,” explains Dr. Seidler. You can strengthen your tooth enamel with these habits:

1. Vavoid too much acid

Certain foods cause the pH value to drop, making it more acidic. On the one hand, these are short carbohydrates such as sugar or white flour, but on the other hand, acidic foods can also attack your teeth. Examples of this are soft drinks such as cola or lemonade, but also wine, juices or sour fruit soften the enamel.

2. Wait to clean

“After eating, the tooth enamel needs up to 90 minutes to completely regenerate,” describes Dr. Seidler. After eating, you should leave your toothbrush for at least half an hour, the longer the better.

3. Clean properly

“If you scrub your teeth with a lot of pressure with a hard toothbrush, it will gradually wear away the tooth enamel,” warns the dentist. Does your toothbrush look flattened and messy after just a short time? Then brush with less pressure and slower movements in the future. Tip: Sonic toothbrushes (e.g. from Philips) protect your tooth enamel much better than normal manual toothbrushes. However, it is important to use them correctly, i.e. not to put pressure on your teeth when brushing. Find out here how you can supplement your oral hygiene with oil pulling.

4. Don’t drag out the meal too much

“It makes a big difference for your teeth whether you eat the same food in a few minutes or over a longer period of time,” says the doctor. Sipping a glass of OJ for about an hour is worse for your teeth than drinking a liter at once. This means that the pH value in the mouth is acidic for much longer, and that means more time in which the tooth enamel is weakened.

5. Combine foods cleverly

Although there are foods that put a strain on the enamel, there are also foods that counteract this. Fats such as coconut oil or dairy products in particular help tooth enamel to stay healthy. So cut your fruit into a portion of quark, or eat a piece of cheese after the main course.

6. Kaue Kaugummi

No dairy products on hand? Then just take a (sugar-free) chewing gum after eating. “This stimulates the flow of saliva and ensures that the acid in the mouth is broken down more quickly,” explains Dr. Seidler. But be careful, if you tend to have jaw problems or grind your teeth, chewing can put additional strain on the jaw joint.

7. Don’t whiten your teeth

Home remedies or toothpastes that are intended to whiten teeth are a disaster for tooth enamel. The white effect is based on either acid or abrasive particles that are intended to remove the discolored areas. Then the stains are gone, but so is the tooth enamel. In addition, the layer is roughened so that new discolorations can form even more quickly. Plus: Due to the thinner enamel, the darker dentin will eventually shine through.

8. Eat a balanced diet

Shouldn’t you then completely avoid acid and carbohydrates for the sake of your teeth? No, because a balanced diet is also important for your teeth. “Vitamins and trace elements promote the growth and maintenance of oral structures, teeth and mucous membranes,” explains Dr. Seidler. This means that in any case you can (and even should) bite the bullet regularly.

Is fluoride harmful?

Another component of dental care is suitable toothpaste, which usually contains fluoride. However, this substance is currently under criticism: purely theoretically, it can cause acute or chronic poisoning or a so-called fluorosis. The toxic dose for adults is between 32 and 64 milligrams per kilo of body weight, or around 2,560 milligrams for a man weighing 80 kilos. For comparison: There is around 1 milligram of fluoride in a portion of toothpaste, and most of it is spit out. “The legal limits in fluoridated toothpastes ensure that the concentration is harmless,” explains Dr. Seidler. Only if you have small children should you get them a child-friendly toothpaste with a lower concentration.

You shouldn’t go without fluoride. “It has been scientifically proven that locally applied fluoride has significantly reduced the number of caries diseases,” says Dr. Seidler. In normal amounts, this salt settles into the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to acid. “This effect has not yet been proven with alternative pastes such as Biorepair,” says the doctor.

You can also get fluoridated table salt or even green tea to help. “The tea plant accumulates natural fluoride as it grows, which is why green and black tea remineralizes tooth enamel,” says the dentist. The discoloration caused by the tea is not serious and can be cleaned away.

Damage to tooth enamel, although irreparable, is easily preventable. It’s all about the right habits to keep your tooth enamel healthy.

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