Whitening Toothpaste and Enamel: What’s the Connection?
Many common dental complaints – both physical and cosmetic – can be traced back to enamel damage.
Tooth enamel is the hard, outer layer of the tooth. While it’s one of the hardest substances in the body, it isn’t invincible, and can be permanently damaged by the effects of the acidic foods and drinks we consume almost every day. Unlike a broken bone that can be repaired by the body, enamel has no living cells, which means the body cannot naturally repair worn out, chipped or cracked enamel.
Some of the most popular questions we receive about dental health are:
- Why am I discovering tooth discoloration?
- Should I use whitening toothpaste?
- Why do I have tooth sensitivity?
- Why are my teeth becoming transparent?
All of these questions are related to the same issue: enamel damage.
- Tooth discoloration. As the tooth enamel wears away, the dentin underneath comes more into view, resulting in a yellow discoloration.
- Whitening toothpaste. Whitening toothpaste is not recommended for the teeth. It contains abrasives that merely wear away the dentin instead of lifting off stain or bleaching. This can cause tooth sensitivity and permanent enamel loss.
- Tooth sensitivity. Tooth enamel protects the softer, more sensitive dentin layer underneath. When enamel wears away, so does the protection from hot and cold.
- Tooth transparency. Patients often notice that the tips of the front teeth start to look transparent. This transparency is due to erosion of tooth enamel. In some cases, the erosion can actually change the shape of the teeth.
While these could also be signs of other dental issues, if, after your dental exam, we do discover you have enamel damage, we will talk about how to correct the problem before it progresses. Treatments could range from fluoride applications and specialized toothpastes to bonding, veneers or crowns, to improve both the appearance and function of your teeth.