5. Treat Heartburn and Eating Disorders
With severe heartburn, stomach acids may escape up into the esophagus. If those acids reach your mouth, they can erode enamel. The eating disorder bulimia, in which people vomit food after they eat, is another threat. If you have symptoms of heartburn or bulimia, talk to your doctor about treatment.
6. Beware of Chlorinated Pools
When swimming pools aren't chlorinated properly, the water may become too acidic. Tooth enamel exposed to pool water can begin to erode. In a CDC study, 15% of frequent swimmers showed signs of enamel erosion, compared to only 3% of people who didn't swim. Check with the recreation center or gym where you swim to make sure the pool's pH is checked regularly. While swimming, keep your mouth closed to avoid exposing your teeth to chlorinated water.
7. Be Alert to Dry Mouth
Saliva helps wash away food and bacteria that can lead to cavities. It also counteracts the effects of acidic foods. People with very low salivary levels (xerostomia) often show signs of enamel erosion. Drink water often to keep your mouth clean and moist. If you exercise hard, be sure to rehydrate during and after your workout. Chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless hard candy can also help. Some medical conditions and certain medications can cause dry mouth. If the condition persists, talk to your doctor.
8. Avoid Grinding Your Teeth
Some people grind their upper and lower teeth together, especially at night. "Over time, grinding can wear down the enamel surface and destroy teeth," says dentist Richard Price, DMD, a spokesman for the American Dental Association. "If you notice yourself clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth, talk to your dentist." Custom-fitted tooth guards can help protect teeth from damage.
9. Get Regular Check-ups
To keep your teeth strong, see your dentist every 6 months for a check-up and cleaning. Your dentist can spot signs of trouble, such as cavities or tooth grinding, before they do a lot of damage. Your dentist will also make sure that you're getting the right amount of fluoride to harden and protect enamel. If your water supply isn't fluoridated, ask your dentist if you need fluoride supplements, mouthwashes, or coatings for your teeth.