If you’ve noticed that the tips of your teeth look almost translucent, you’re not alone! In fact, this problem is much more common than you might imagine. Fortunately, there are some very effective ways to resolve the issue. One of those is using dental bonding for translucent teeth. In this article, we’ll explain why teeth become translucent, ways to treat the condition, and how to prevent teeth from becoming more translucent in the future.
Understanding Why Teeth Become Translucent
The first step in understanding why teeth become translucent is to understand the anatomy of the tooth. All teeth are comprised of multiple layers. The innermost part of the tooth, or the pulp, is where the soft tissues resides, including blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue. The next layer is the dentin, which is a hard substance that makes up the bulk of a tooth. Dentin is not white in color — it’s typically a pale yellow shade, but can also be grey or even black. Finally, the top layer of the tooth is the enamel, which is even harder than the dentin layer. Enamel is comprised mostly of minerals (such as calcium), and is actually the hardest substance in the entire human body.
But as hard as enamel is, it can become eroded or worn away over time. When that happens, your teeth might start to take on a translucent appearance. This most commonly appears at the tips of the teeth since the dentin layer doesn’t extend all the way to the end of each tooth and once the enamel erodes the ends of teeth start looking translucent.
Reasons for Eroded Enamel
The most common reason why enamel becomes eroded is exposure to too much acidic foods and drinks. But it can happen for other reasons as well. People who suffer from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), as well as people with certain eating disorders, may experience vomiting more often than other people. When that happens, the person’s teeth are exposed to stomach acid, which damages the enamel layer of the teeth. Other causes include coeliac disease, which prevents enamel from developing as it normally would. Enamel hypoplasia is another condition that results in compromised enamel. And using teeth whitening products too often can also damage the enamel layer of your teeth.
Treatments for Translucent Teeth
Unfortunately, once your enamel is eroded, it never grows back. But the good news is that your dentist can effectively treat translucent teeth with a variety of cosmetic dental procedures. Although we’ll focus our discussion here on dental bonding, two other choices are porcelain veneers and crowns, both of which are excellent ways to protect the existing tooth and restore it to a healthy appearance. But dental bonding can accomplish the same thing, and usually for a much lower cost than either of the other two treatments.
What’s Involved in Dental Bonding
The procedure involved in dental bonding is remarkably simple and fast. It starts with the dentist preparing the affected teeth so that the bonding material will more easily adhere to the tooth surface. The next step consists of the dentist applying a layer of composite resin to the surface of the tooth. This material is made to exactly match the shade of the patient’s other natural teeth. Once the resin begins to harden slightly, the dentist literally molds it into the shape of a natural tooth. The end result is a tooth that looks completely normal and healthy. Better still, the entire dental bonding procedure can be completed in a single trip to the dentist’s office!
While it’s true that bonding is a great way to repair translucent teeth, it is also an effective way to repair other minor dental issues, such as cracked or chipped teeth, misaligned teeth, or teeth with wide gaps in between. The composite resin material typically lasts between 5 and 10 years, after which you can return to the dentist to have your teeth bonded again.
How to Prevent Further Erosion
Although it’s true that enamel doesn’t grow back once it’s gone, there are steps you can take to remineralize affected teeth and prevent your enamel from eroding further. What follows are some effected ways to protect your remaining enamel:
- Fluoride treatment – Fluoride is an excellent way to remineralize your enamel. You can accomplish this with fluoride treatments in your dentist’s office, as well as brushing twice a day with an ADA (American Dental Association)-approved fluoride toothpaste.
- Avoid carbonated drinks and acidic foods and beverages – You’d be surprised at how many drinks and foods contain acid, so it’s probably not reasonable to completely eliminate them from your diet. In fact, many acidic foods – like citrus fruits, for example – are actually a healthy part of your diet. But to protect your enamel, it is a good idea to reduce your intake as much as possible. If and when you do indulge in acidic foods or drinks, try to rinse your mouth out with water afterwards to reduce the amount of acid left over in your mouth.
- Avoid sugar – Another contributor to enamel erosion is sugar, so try to avoid sugary foods and drinks as much as possible.
- Brushing and flossing – Most of us know how important it is to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once. But if you have eroded enamel, you should take care to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and to brush thoroughly but softly to avoid further damaging the enamel.
Considering all the possible ways you can unintentionally erode enamel, it should come as no surprise that translucent teeth are so common. This is especially true for seniors, who have lived more years and had more opportunities to expose their teeth acidic foods and drinks. Fortunately, there are several good remedies for the problem, thanks to modern dental technology. To find out more about using dental bonding for translucent teeth, as well as other treatments such as porcelain veneers or crowns, schedule an appointment with your dentist today. He or she can provide you with more information, assess your current oral health, and recommend the best treatment option for you.