That is a good question….Do you have soft teeth?
Is there such a thing?
I had never heard of soft teeth, until one day a patient told me her teeth were soft and it ran in her family.
The picture above is what came to my mind when she said that. Marshmallow for teeth.
After that I researched theterm “soft teeth” because I was not taught about this phenomenon in hygiene school…. However, I was taught some teeth are more susceptible to developing decay than others.
What if I told you there is no such thing as soft teeth?
Even though “soft teeth” are just a myth there are some things you can do to avoid having problems with your teeth.
Almost everyone is born with strong teeth.
Teeth are made of enamel which……is actually the hardest substance in the human body, even stronger than our bones.
Enamel is not bone, it is tissue, made of 96% hard minerals including calcium phosphate and hydroxyapatite the other 4% is made up of water and protein.
These minerals give the teeth great strength and hardness along the ability to flex and absorb tremendous forced without breaking or fracturing.
I know right, hard to believe.
Enamel is the hard-outside layer of a tooth that protects the sensitive yellow inside layer of the tooth called dentin.
What are some causes of soft teeth?
Enamel becomes weak is if the teeth are deficient in these minerals.
Tooth enamel can undergo a process called demineralization if the PH of the mouth falls below 5.5
The combination of bacteria and sugars in the mouth generate acid, this acid cause the minerals in the enamel to slowly dissolve ……creating cavities.
This softening of the enamel by the bacteria and acid assist in the decay process making the tooth soft.
If you think that “soft teeth” tend to run in your family, you’ll be surprised to know the real reason cavities happen.
Mothers who carry these bacteria — especially those who have several cavities while pregnant— can pass the bacteria from their mouth to the baby or child through their saliva and blood.
It’s important to avoid transferring bacteria from one mouth to another and to begin dental care early.
It is Bacteria that are to Blame
Tooth decay, or a cavity, is the process where harmful acids dissolve part of the tooth enamel.
Teeth really are strong enough to resist decay, but when plaque sits on a tooth for more than 24 hours, and if you’ve eaten anything with sugar in it, acid will be produced, and the decay process begins.
The bacteria formed acid will literally work to weaken and break down the enamel on your teeth where plaque is found.
Without proper oral hygiene including regular brushing and flossing, the longer that the bacteria remain on a tooth slowly dissolving it away.
Research shows that dental caries (tooth decay) is an infectious disease.
In fact, it is the most common chronic childhood disease.
But there’s good news: like most diseases in your mouth ……It is preventable.
Dental caries is associated with particular strains of bacteria, called StreptococcusMutanswhich live in the mouth.
Most people who suffer from frequent dental caries (cavities) (tooth decay) actually start out with perfectly normal healthy teeth.
Their enamel is just as developed and strong as the average person.
Poor dental habits are usually the cause of most cavities and with very few exceptions nearly all cavities are 100% preventable.
There really is a condition that causes some people’s teeth to be more susceptible to cavities than others.
It is called Amelogenesis Imperfecta and can result in thin, improperly formed enamel. This enamel is often pitted, uneven and brown. I have seen this occur even before the teeth erupt into the mouth. It is visible on x-rays.
There is not much that can be done to prevent this condition. When the teeth erupt sometimes you can seal the occlusal surfaces but most of the time these teeth will eventually need fillings and possibly crowns to protect them.
A tooth can also become “soft” if some unusual event occurs to disrupt normal development.
The development of a tooth is a complex and coordinated process and many things can disrupt it.
Some Examples of things that can make teeth soft include but are not limited to:
- Fever, even for a short period of time while the tooth is still developing.
- Malnutrition leading to vitamin deficiencies.
- Dry mouth or a PH level of 5.5 or below
- Hormonal imbalances.
- Certain rare genetic conditions.
- Dental decay (cavities)
- Systemic consumption of fluoride at extremely high levels (> 5 ppm).
- Acid conditions in the body or mouth (heartburn or acid reflux)
- Eating disorder
Acid is one thing that puts your teeth at a higher risk for cavities, dental caries and tooth decay.
The crazy thing is you can have an acidic body chemistry without ever knowing it.
As a matter of fact, the majority of people suffering from heartburn and acid reflux don’t even realize it’s happening, at least until they realize it has damaged their teeth or wearing certain jewelry turns their skin greenish blue.
The Inner layers of teeth (called Dentin) can become exposed to damaging acids from food and saliva which leaves these true “soft teeth” more susceptible to cavities.
What can you do to protect yourself from cavities?
There are important steps you can take to prevent tooth decay:
Practice good oral hygiene including brushing, flossing and rinsing after meals.
Make sure your teeth are exposed to ample fluoride typically found in tap water and many mouthwashes.
Learn what a good dental routine looks like and incorporate it into your life. Brush at least two times per day and floss at least once.
Make sure you know how to brush. Not using enough force or using too much force can both be dangerous.
Consider investing in a rotating or spinning toothbrush because it makes it easier to get a thorough cleaning without causing any damage to your teeth.
Also make sure you know how to floss. Many people avoid flossing because they aren’t sure how it’s done.
If you don’t know, ask your dental hygienist for a tutorial during your next visit or pop on YouTube. There is a video for everything these days.
Choose foods that are good for your teeth which are really just foods that are good for your overall health. Limit or avoid foods that are sugary or high in starch. Switch out sugary sodas and juices for fluoridated water.
Go to the Dentist for regular dental exams.
If you want to help your child avoid soft teeth, do not bottle feed at night and avoid using pacifiers. Discourage thumb sucking as much as possible.
Schedule a first dental visit early in life so it becomes routine and helps your child understand the importance of good oral hygiene by including tooth brushing as part of their morning and evening routine
There’s no reason to accept that your teeth are just bad and there is nothing you can do about it.
You might just need to work harder than the average person to maintain good dental health, but, unfortunately, in some cases, even the best dental routine will not be enough to prevent cavities.
Introducing fluoride in the drinking water and in toothpaste greatly reduced the incidence of decay in the population. Now that more people are drinking bottled water without fluoride the incidence of decay has increased again.
Fluoride speeds up the movement of calcium and phosphate on the tooth surface. This remineralizes the tooth structure. The remineralized tooth structure contains fluoridated hydroxyapatite which resist the acid attack much better than the original tooth surface alone.
That is why your dental professional may recommend fluoride for everyone in the family.
You should be able to keep your teeth your entire life—as long as you take good care of them.
Practicing good dental habits from the start will help you have a beautiful smile for a lifetime.
“Maternal Oral Health in Pregnancy.” K.A. Boggess. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2008, vol. 111, pp. 976–86.https://www.smfm.org/attachedFiles09/Boggess-K%20Oral%20health%20in%20Pregnancy%20O&G%202008.pdf. Accessed 2013.
“ADA Statement on Early Childhood Caries.” American Dental Association. www.ada.org/2057.aspx. Accessed 2013.
“Baby Bottle Tooth Decay.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/baby-bottle-tooth-decay. Accessed 2013.
“Decay.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org