Your dental enamel is the protective layer of your tooth; enamel is designed to defend your inner tooth against bacteria and dental damage. Unfortunately, your enamel can become compromised over time, leaving you susceptible to cavities, cracks/chips, and aesthetic changes.
A certain amount of dental enamel deterioration is simply unavoidable—our teeth do a lot of us every day, and it makes sense that they will show some wear and tear over time. However, there are certain habits and behaviors that can cause increased/expedited enamel deterioration.
For example, if you find yourself chomping on ice, mints, or hard candies, you are putting your smile at risk! When you chew on these hard substances, you may be creating small cracks and chips in your enamel—these cracks may be invisible to the naked eye, but they allow oral bacteria to more easily colonize in your enamel.
Keep in mind that acidic foods and drinks can also weaken enamel over time. Some commonly consumed acidic substances include citrus fruits and juices, wine, and carbonated drinks. You want to limit, as much as possible, the amount of time that these substances are able to sit on your dental enamel. You should also wait to brush your teeth for at least 30 minutes after consuming acidic things, as your enamel will be softer and more prone to erosion.
If you grind your teeth, or clench your teeth together, this will also lead your dental enamel to thin over time (chronic dental grinding/clenching is called bruxism). The good news is that there are a number of protective mouth guards and treatments that can help to protect your dental enamel from this condition.