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    Tooth Enamel Erosion

    Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in your body. It’s a semi-clear, hard, outer layer that protects your teeth from daily wear and tear. It also keeps you from feeling temperature extremes from the hot and cold things you eat and drink. Acids and chemicals that can damage your teeth are also fended off by it.

    When this shell erodes, your teeth are more likely to get cavities and decay. You may notice you react more to hot or cold foods, drinks, and sweets, since they can get through holes in your enamel to the nerves inside.

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    A few easy habits can help you protect your pearly whites. But first you need to know what to watch out for.

    What's Eating My Enamel?

    Damage to your teeth’s outer layer can come from:

    • Too many sweets. Bacteria in your mouth thrive on sugar, and they make acids that can eat away at enamel. It gets worse if you don’t clean your teeth regularly.
    • Sour foods or candies. They have a lot of acid.
    • Dry mouth. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by washing away bacteria acids and leftover food in your mouth. It also brings acids to an acceptable level.
    • Acid reflux disease, GERD, or heartburn. These bring stomach acids up to the mouth, where they can damage enamel.
    • Bulimia, alcoholism, or binge drinking. People with these conditions vomit often, which is hard on teeth.
    • Drugs or supplements that have a lot of acid. Think aspirin or vitamin C.
    • Brushing too hard. A soft brush and a gentle touch are best.
    • Grinding your teeth. Your dentist may call this bruxism. Too much of it can do damage.

    What Are the Symptoms?

    If your teeth start losing their outer shell, you might notice:

    • Pain when eating hot, cold, or sweet foods or drinks
    • Rough or uneven edges on the teeth, which can crack or chip when they lose their enamel
    • Smooth, shiny surfaces on the teeth, a sign of mineral loss
    • Yellow teeth
    • Cupping, or dents, that show up where you bite and chew

    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

    Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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    or
    Answer:
    Never
    (0)
    Good
    (1-3)
    Better
    (4-6)
    Best
    (7)

    You are currently

    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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