If some of your teeth are beginning to look transparent or translucent around the edges, you may begin to grow concerned. Translucent or transparent teeth can happen even if you follow the best oral hygiene routine and go to your dentist regularly. Learning what causes translucent or transparent teeth can help you prevent this dental issue before it starts.
The Science Behind Transparent Teeth
The semi-transparent, thin, outer shell that covers the visible portion of each tooth is referred to as the enamel. The second layer of the tooth that sits under your enamel is referred to as dentin. Since your tooth enamel itself is semi-translucent, it only provides a portion of your tooth’s color. Dentin is responsible for providing the remaining color to the tooth and may be white, grey, yellow or off-white.
Dentin does not extend all the way to the edges of the teeth, which means the tips consist only of enamel. For this reason, the biting edges of the teeth may appear bluish white, grey or even clear. When enamel wears away, or if it never forms properly, the teeth can take on a dull, translucent, or waxy appearance.
This means that if your teeth are starting to look transparent, your enamel around the edges of your teeth where dentin does not extend is worn. When the enamel begins to erode, transparent teeth usually result.
What Causes Translucent Teeth
Translucent teeth are the result of eroded enamel. There are certain medical conditions that can affect the formation and the strength of the enamel, resulting in the transparent appearance of your smile. These conditions include:
- Enamel Hypoplasia — This is a genetic condition that causes weak, chalky, or thin enamel, which results in a translucent appearance. Unfortunately, the enamel that is present erodes quickly. On rare occasions, a tooth will form without any enamel whatsoever and the dentin will be completely exposed.
- Celiac Disease — While many assume that celiac disease only affects the gastrointestinal tract from gluten consumption, this is not true. Celiac disease also results in poor enamel development. Individuals who have this disease frequently suffer from pitting, banding, or translucent portions of teeth. Other oral symptoms include recurrent canker sores, dry mouth, and a red, shiny tongue.
- Bulimia — This eating disorder affects body image, and is accompanied by self-purging, like vomiting. Teeth that are constantly exposed to stomach acid and bile that is found in vomit can cause damage to the tooth enamel.
Symptoms Associated With Translucent Teeth
Many of the symptoms associated with translucent teeth are signs of enamel erosion. Visible changes in the transparency of the tooth become more prominent if enamel continues to erode, exposing the dark-colored dentin underneath. Symptoms you may experience with translucent or transparent teeth are:
- Sensitivity — Slight tooth pain and sensitivity to sweet and acidic foods, as well as to extremely hot and cold temperatures are signs your enamel is eroding.
- Visual Changes — You will begin to see transparency at the biting edges of the teeth, surface indentions, color changes, and tooth fractures. The biting edges of the teeth may also start to become rough and jagged.
- Canker Sores — Recurrent canker sores can occur as a result of the same acid that is wearing your enamel. Rough, jagged teeth edges may also cause canker sores.
- Dry Mouth — If your enamel is being eroded by acids, dry mouth may also occur. This particularly detrimental to the health of your teeth because saliva is responsible for providing enzymes designed to fight cavities. Without an adequate amount of saliva, your teeth are at a much higher risk of erosion from acidic foods and bacteria.
Treating Translucent Teeth
If you notice your teeth are becoming translucent or transparent, you should seek treatment immediately. Once you have transparent teeth, they are more susceptible to bacteria, which can result in cavities. When it comes to treating translucent teeth, you have a few options.
A veneer is a hard porcelain shell that is designed to sit over the front of a tooth. These shells easily hide misshapen teeth, gaps, and discoloration. Veneers will also protect the teeth underneath from continued enamel erosion.
During this procedure, composite resin is colored to match your teeth. The composite resin is then molded and shaped to cover your teeth.
A dental crown may be recommended to protect and restore a tooth. Crowns can be either porcelain or ceramic, and fit directly over the top of a tooth, providing both structure and strength.
This tooth enamel repair involves filling teeth with a combination of sodium fluoride, calcium phosphate, and Recaldent.
Preventing Enamel Erosion
One of the best ways to prevent enamel erosion is to brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is essential to the health of your teeth because it indirectly provides tooth enamel repair by strengthening your existing enamel. In addition, you need to floss at least once a day. Along with proper oral hygiene, you can prevent enamel erosion and translucent teeth by:
- Boosting Saliva — To boost saliva production, chew sugar-free gum with xylitol between meals. Xylitol has been shown to reduce the acids in foods and beverages.
- Dental Cleanings — Keeping up with biannual dental cleanings will keep your smile healthy. If you notice any problem with your teeth, contact your dentist right away.
- Use a Straw — While drinking, use a straw to help your teeth avoid exposure to acidic beverages.
- Drink Water — If you have dry mouth, drink plenty of water throughout the day. Also drink water after eating, drinking sugary beverages, or vomiting to wash acids away from your teeth.
- Eat a Healthy Diet — Eat a healthy, smile friendly diet and limit your consumption of acidic food and drink. When you do eat or drink something acidic, be sure to rinse your mouth out directly after.
- Manage Acid Reflux — If you tend to have acid reflux or you have GERD, keep that in mind when eating spicy foods. Stay ahead of the reflux by taking your medications, avoid eating at least three hours before going to bed, and do not sleep lying flat.
Triangle Dentistry located in Raleigh, NC provides a state-of-the-art facility that offers exceptional general dental and specialty services guided by empathy of patient’s needs and desires. Services range from dental crowns and implants to veneers and whitening procedures. For further information, questions or to schedule an appointment, contact the office at (919) 747-3592.