how to avoid brittle teeth
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How to Avoid Brittle Teeth

The enamel that protects our teeth is strong stuff, more resilient than even our bones. It needs to be. Throughout the course of our lives, we only get one set of adult teeth, and they take a lot of abuse. Over time certain circumstances can erode and weaken the enamel, leaving the normally tough teeth brittle and prone to breaking.

There are several conditions and situations that can lead to brittle teeth, including genetic influences, nutritional deficiencies, and even the natural aging process. Thankfully, there are many things that we can do to mitigate or even prevent further damage to our teeth. Here are some of the ways that the world can wear on our teeth, and the actions we can take to protect them.

Poor oral care

If we want our teeth to last for our entire life, we have to take care of them. Neglecting dental care can lead to bad breath, swollen gums, and even dangerous infections. Poor oral hygiene can also lead to weak enamel and brittle or damaged teeth.

Regularly brushing and flossing your teeth keeps them healthier, protecting the vital pulp inside the tooth. The living pulp of the tooth keeps the enamel moist and provides the nutrients it needs to stay strong. Brushing your teeth too often or too vigorously, however, can also be damaging to the tooth enamel, wearing it away. Certain dental treatments, especially multiple or repeated procedures, can also weaken the tooth by impacting both the enamel and the pulp.

Woman flossing to avoid brittle teeth

Nutritional deficiencies

There are many vitamins and minerals that are essential for your teeth to stay healthy and strong. Deficiencies in the vitamins and minerals that your teeth need can leave them weakened and brittle. A few of the nutrients vital to the health of your teeth include:

  • Vitamin A—This vitamin is crucial for saliva production, an important component of dental health.
  • Vitamin C—This immunity powerhouse also helps to strengthen the gums, helping keep the teeth firmly where they belong. A lack of vitamin C leads to bleeding or receding gums.
  • Vitamin D—Vitamin D is needed for adequate bone and tooth mineralization. A lack of this vitamin can lead to tooth decay, cavities, and weakened enamel.
  • Calcium—Calcium is likely the most important nutrient to bone and tooth mineralization. A lack of calcium weakens the overall enamel, making it brittle and prone to minor chips, cracking, a broken tooth.
  • Phosphorus—Phosphorus helps to absorb calcium and is needed to rebuild the enamel of the teeth.

Exposure to acids

Your teeth are strong, but they are not impervious. Acids, even relatively weak acids, can prove exceptionally destructive to the enamel that protects the root of the tooth. Drinking soda on a regular basis, sucking on lemons and limes, and even frequently indulging in tomatoes can affect the strength of the enamel.

Woman eating a lemon

Another source of acid that can attack our teeth is stomach acids. Frequent vomiting, such as with severe morning sickness, gastroparesis, or cyclic vomiting syndrome, can expose the teeth to excess levels of stomach acid. GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, can also subject the enamel to more stomach acid than average, leading to brittle teeth.

Grinding and other physical insults

Teeth that are chipped or otherwise damaged are more prone to become brittle, especially if the damage allows the pulp inside the tooth to become inflamed or dried out. Grinding your teeth at night wears down the enamel and can lead to chipping and cracking, leading to tooth pain.

Genetic influences

Genetic disorders may also influence the strength and structure of your teeth. People with dentinogenesis imperfecta, a genetic disorder that is characterized by teeth that are translucent or discolored in appearance, may have weak teeth that are prone to cracking and pitting. Amelogenesis imperfecta causes weak, often pitted enamel to develop in both baby and adult teeth.


Certain medications can cause the enamel on your teeth to become brittle as well. Some of these, like antacids and chewable aspirin, affect the enamel directly. Others, like antihistamines, asthma medications, and antidepressants, often trigger dry mouth symptoms. Enamel requires moisture to maintain its durability, making dry mouth and not having enough saliva particularly bad for our oral health.

Aging-related issues

Aging isn’t any easier on our teeth than it is on the rest of the body. Several of the symptoms of aging can have a destructive effect on the enamel of our teeth.

There’s a natural reduction in the number of nerves and pulp in the teeth as we grow older. This causes the enamel to dry out and become more brittle and sometimes crack. Dehydration and dry mouth are also more likely to occur as we age, especially after menopause. The lack of saliva further dries out the teeth and reduces the health of the pulp and nerves.

Osteoporosis is primarily thought of as a bone disease, but it can affect the health of teeth as well. As the bone density in the jaw diminishes, teeth can become loose in the socket, leading to cavities and breakage.

Dentist and patient in dentist office

Proper Care

While some erosion is inevitable, there are many things we can do to help keep our teeth strong and healthy. Get routine dental exams to ensure that your dental health is properly monitored. This allows you to handle any problems that arise while they are still small and manageable. Maintain proper oral hygiene to ensure that your teeth are clean and free of acids and sugars. Make sure your diet is filled with plenty of the nutrients needed to build and maintain healthy teeth, and stay hydrated.

If you are already suffering from brittle teeth, don’t wait to address the issue. Talk to your dentist about methods to strengthen and support your teeth. Enamel production can sometimes be improved with fluoride supplements. Dental sealants, veneers, and even crowns can help shore up teeth that are viable, but fragile. Taking care of the issue early will reduce further cracking and may even prevent tooth loss.

Read Next:

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How To Handle Aging Teeth and Receding Gums

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