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Are You at Risk for Tooth Erosion?

Enamel is the great protector of your tooth surface. Over time, however, even this hard surface can get kinks in its armor. A literal daily spit and polish can help fend off attacks to your enamel and prevent subsequent tooth erosion.

Signs of Enamel Erosion

Most tooth erosion occurs over time, and it could take several years for you to realize it’s happening. Usually, some discomfort while eating or drinking is the first sign, and people then start looking for ways to alleviate the pain. Here’s the bad news: Tooth erosion is permanent, so be on the lookout for signs that your enamel has begun to erode:

  • Tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet drinks
  • Discoloration of the teeth
  • Fillings that start feeling different    
  • Increased cavities
  • Abscess or tooth loss in extreme cases

Once tooth erosion occurs, you’re in line for fillings, crowns, a root canal, or even tooth removal, so it is important to make changes to prevent additional erosion.

It’s All About the Acids

Acid is the kryptonite of tooth enamel, slowly attacking by finding weaknesses and settling in to erode the outer protection and get at the tooth itself. The acids responsible for tooth erosion can be traced to both intrinsic (coming from within the body) and extrinsic (coming from outside) sources. Intrinsic sources include health conditions such as xerostamia (dry mouth or low saliva) as well as those that force excess stomach acids back up into the mouth such as acid reflux (GERD), bulimia, alcoholism, and even pregnancy. Environmental factors including friction, wear and tear, stress, and corrosion also factor in.      

Extrinsic sources are the most common and also the most easily regulated. They include:

  • Excessive soft drink consumption
  • Fruit drinks
  • Aggressive brushing
  • Diet high in sugar and starches
  • Medications with antihistamines
  • Aspirin

Rule of thumb: if what you’re drinking is carbonated, sour or citrus (either natural or flavored), moderation is best. If you do indulge, consider using a straw. This takes the liquid to the back of your mouth and limits the exposure to the teeth.

Even nutritious foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits can have acidic effects on your enamel and should be limited to part of a meal and not the meal itself. Sticky foods like candies, raisins, and other dried fruits also cause problems when they adhere to teeth, giving shelter to acids produced by cavity-causing bacteria.

Still, the major tooth erosion culprit is soft drinks, especially soda and sports drinks which contain high levels of phosphoric acid and citric acids. Even if they are sugar-free, they are more likely to be acidic thanks to carbonation. That bubbly fizz raises the acid level of any drink, regardless of its flavor. The acid in beverages can also come from citrus flavorings such as lemon, lime, and orange. Even all-natural beverages like orange juice or fresh-squeezed lemonade are higher in acid than regular water, so make them an occasional treat instead of a daily habit. 

While it’s a long shot to assume we can eliminate all acids from our diets, following up with a glass of water or milk, or even a snack of cheese, can help to neutralize the acids in your mouth. A dentist can explain the effects of nutritional choices on your teeth, including the various foods and beverages to choose from and which ones to avoid. Knowing all you can about the effects of what you eat and drink on your teeth can help you make the right choices for your overall health.

Spit on It!

One of your best defenses against tooth erosion is already naturally in place. Saliva helps keep acids under control with its natural protective quality. Waiting an hour to brush after eating acidic foods gives your saliva a chance to naturally wash away acids and re-harden your enamel. You can also help keep your saliva flowing and protecting your teeth by chewing sugarless gum that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

Saliva serves multiple functions in your body. It increases the overall health of your body tissues, removes waste material from the mouth, and also protects tooth enamel by coating the teeth in protective calcium and other minerals. Saliva also dilutes erosive acid and boosts protective substances that help fight mouth bacteria and disease. In a healthy mouth, calcium-rich saliva helps strengthen teeth, even if you drink an acidic soda or juice. Again, moderation is the key because while saliva will help your body process these acids, it can’t fully protect against an overabundance.

The Dangers of Filing

Normal wear and tear is common on front teeth, particularly the lower front teeth. An unfortunate trend in 2020 saw young people actually filing the edges of their teeth to create a straighter look. “Teeth filing is hands down the worst thing a person can do,” says Dr. Mitchmore. This risky practice accelerates the rate of erosion on the enamel exponentially, making those teeth at greater risk for damage and infection, not to mention sensitivity, serious headaches and even tooth loss.

Regular Preventative Oral Care

The bottom line: healthy habits lead to an overall healthy lifestyle. Keeping your mouth, teeth, and gums healthy can ward off tooth erosion, decay, and the need for restorative procedures. Watching your diet and intake of acidic foods and beverages not only aid in limiting gastric acid issues but can also help keep your tooth enamel strong and enduring like the mighty defense      it is intended to be. A strong oral care regimen is always part of a comprehensive health plan. Regular visits to your dentist can detect any signs of tooth erosion or other issues requiring attention. Dr. Mitchmore and his team can discuss multiple treatment options to help you maintain a bright and healthy smile. Call LifeSmiles today at 713-592-9300 to schedule your appointment.

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Sally May-Frankum
Dental Hygienist

Sally’s favorite part about working with the team at LifeSmiles is the fun she has with her co-workers. Additionally, she appreciates working with Dr. Randy Mitchmore because much like her, he values whole-body health for his patients. She’s proud to be part of a team that does such high quality work.

Outside of the office: Sally enjoys being with her children and grandchildren and uses writing as a creative outlet. On the weekends, she can be found doing all things outdoors including hiking and biking.

 

Bucket List: Going to Europe, exploring every US state, and zip-lining.

Hero: The Highest Power of them all!

Toni Wilson
Queen of Charisma

 “Every great dream begins with a dreamer.”

Toni’s favorite thing about working at LifeSmiles is the beautiful scenery. When patients are having anxiety about their dental appointments, she creates a fearless atmosphere with her charisma and warmth. She is passionate about helping every patient achieve their dental health goals. She says she truly loves being part of a team where she can grow professionally and personally.

Outside the office: Toni loves spending time with her husband and their sons. She also likes to show off her green thumb with her work in her garden.


Bucket list item:
Travel around the world and learn about other cultures and regions.

Your hero: Harriet Tubman because she was passionate and a fearless leader unafraid of any of life’s challenges.

Mike Mireles
Elite Care and Education Specialist

Smiling is contagious

Mike began his career at LifeSmiles seeking an opportunity to expand his skillset and advance his career. Today he works at Dr. Michmore’s side through dental procedures and surgeries. He loves working at LifeSmiles because the entire team is continually learning and keeping up to date with the newest advancements in dentistry.

Outside the office: Mike enjoys barbecuing on his patio, traveling, and spending time with his family. He’s a dog dad of two: Tati and Tito.


Bucket list item:
To visit Thailand and Dubai and to try skydiving!

Your hero: Mike looks up to his parents and is forever grateful for the life lesson they taught him; respect, manners, strength, and to be a go-getter. He continues to carry these things with him with everything he does.

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Sandra Smith
Ambassador

Sandra is 44 years old and is a star athlete for the Special Olympics. At LifeSmiles, Sandra stocks patient rooms and the coffee bar. She does all kinds of special projects like decorating for holidays and preparing awesome gifts for our patients.

Sandra loves being around all her friends and is proud to wear a LifeSmiles shirt, jacket, and name badge. You’ll always find her smiling and helping make our patients smile too.

Outside the Office: Sandra likes to go fishing with her family, swim, go to dances, and walk the mall with her friends. She is very active in the Special Olympics and won second place in the state volleyball tournament (go, Sandra!) in 2020. She sings in her church choir and attends international performances with them.

Spirit Animal: Butterfly. She likes them because they are pretty.

Andie Willis
Director of Details

Andie is married with one son, Logan and now lives in The Woodlands. She grew up in Sugar Land and has followed in her mother’s footsteps – she has been in dentistry for over 35 years. Andie actually started out working in the office with her mom and learned many things from the way she worked.

Andie has been a Lead Dental Assistant for most of her career. She has worked for many specialists including oral surgeons and periodontists. She has extensive training in all facets of dentistry but especially enjoys the surgical and cosmetic side. As a science nerd, dentistry fascinates Andie and gives her a sense of accomplishment.

At LifeSmiles, she is our “Director of Details”. Andie is known for being a perfectionist because she likes to gather as much information as possible and go the extra mile to match Dr. Mitchmore’s high standards. She truly loves being part of our dedicated team of professionals who go above and beyond for our amazing patients.

Outside of the Office: Andie is addicted to Lagree fitness and loves to go off-shore fishing.

Your Hero: Her Mom. She is the most selfless person Andie knows.

John Copous
Chief Enthusiasm Officer

John became a new patient of LifeSmiles in 2008. He likes to tell people he was not allowed to leave. John worked down the street for 14 years before joining the team. He has a passion for meeting new people and extending genuine hospitality.

Often the first person people meet on the phone and when they walk in the door, you can count on John for a warm welcoming smile. You can even ‘hear’ it over the phone. He says, “I believe everyone deserves the red carpet treatment and love seeing other people smile.”

John hears stories every day how someone’s smile is holding them back. He can barely contain his excitement when shouting the praises of Dr. Mitchmore and the entire team. He shares passionate stories of how the transformations people have received at LifeSmiles, changed their lives.

Outside the Office: John loves being outside. He enjoys sharing a beach house with friends and family. He loves entertaining, throwing a party and cooking at home. He can start a conversation with anyone, anywhere. He’s an amateur stand-up comic.

Bucket List Item: To live in a foreign country for one year, somewhere near the beach. Take some time to write an epic love novel loosely based on my large Italian family.

Your Hero: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”. While fictional, the character incorporates admirable qualities from real life people. She believes in the goodness of everyone, keeps on going and moves forward despite any obstacle. She is able to find humor in other people’s quirks, accepts them and makes sense of it all. Plus, she’s a little outrageous too.