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Chipped, Fractured, or Broken Teeth continued...

Take some steps to safeguard your smile.

Don’t bite down on hard foods, like ice and hard candies. Also, instead of trying to open that package or bottle with your mouth, grab an opener or pair of scissors.

A cavity or filling can weaken your tooth and make it more likely to chip or break, too. So it’s important to see your dentist for a check-up twice a year.

And if you play a contact sport, ask your dentist to fit you for a mouth guard. Athletes who don’t wear them are nearly twice as likely to have a mouth or tooth injury.

Acid and Tooth Enamel Erosion

You may remember from high-school chemistry class that acids can eat away at surfaces. This holds true for tooth enamel. 

Here are some ways you’re exposing your mouth to acid:

  • Acidic foods and drinks. Citrus fruits can wear down enamel. Sodas, lemonade, and sports and energy drinks are the most harmful drinks.
  • Sugar. Bacteria on your teeth feed on sugar. They make harmful acids and cause cavities.
  • Acid reflux. It brings stomach acids back into your esophagus and mouth.
  • Frequent vomiting. Conditions that cause this, like alcoholism and bulimia, expose your teeth to stomach acid too often.

Cut down on sugary and acidic drinks and snacks during the day. When you have them regularly, “this exposes your teeth to acid for a longer period of time, which wears down the enamel,” says Sara Hahn, DMD, an assistant professor at the University of California-San Francisco’s School of Dentistry.  

Also, “each time have something acidic or sugary, rinse your mouth with some water,” Hahn says. You can also chew a piece of sugarless gum, which boosts your saliva flow. Your saliva contains minerals like calcium and phosphate that strengthen tooth enamel.

If you have acid reflux (or GERD), alcoholism, or bulimia, see your doctor for treatment or medication.

And don’t forget to brush your teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day, with a fluoride toothpaste. A fluoride mouth rinse will also help.