Transparent Teeth: Causes, Prevention & Treatment Options
Recently you looked in the mirror and noticed that the pearly white teeth you are proud of are fading, and the tips are becoming translucent with a grey tinge. You’ve been following an excellent oral hygiene routine, so this has you stumped. Let’s start with basic dental anatomy to help you understand what’s happening.
Teeth have three layers, with the outer white layer being the enamel. Dental experts argue that it’s the hardest part of the human body, with calcium being its main component.
Under the enamel is dentin which forms the larger part of a tooth. The dentin region is usually pale yellow but can also be dark yellow, various shades of brown or grey. When the enamel starts eroding, teeth can become translucent, and since the dentin doesn’t extend to the tips, the translucency is only visible at the edges.
Unfortunately, enamel loss is permanent and cannot be reversed. The goal of treating translucent teeth is to prevent more enamel erosion. So, you should always consult your dentist when you first notice signs of transparency.
If you are looking for a Malta dentist, you can book a dental appointment online at one of Savina Dental Clinics, or contact us directly on (+356) 2125 7253 (Skyparks Business Centre, Malta International Airport), or (+356) 2155 7323 (Dingli Street, Victoria, Gozo). For international patients, it is recommended to request a free e-consultation where we can discuss your individual case and treatment options.
Below is more information on the causes, symptoms, and treatment of translucent teeth.
Causes of Transparent Teeth
This genetic condition leads to a lack of mineralization, which is an essential step in making and maintaining tooth enamel. People with this condition often have transparent teeth and thin enamel.
Experts have determined that people with an oral pH of 7.0 and above usually have fewer cavities and less dental decay than those with low pH levels (acidic environments). pH levels under 5.5 result in enamel demineralization.
Regularly consuming highly acidic foods increases the risk of the enamel eroding prematurely. Moreover, excessive teeth bleaching can cause enamel wear and, therefore, translucent teeth.
Most people assume coeliac disease only involves gastrointestinal issues when a person consumes gluten. However, it can also lead to poor enamel development. Those who have Coeliac disease have translucent banding, pitting, or portions.
This is an eating disorder that affects the body’s image. People who suffer from bulimia often self-purge through vomiting. As a result, the teeth are exposed to bile and stomach acid, which often cause damage to the enamel, especially on the palatal (inner) surfaces
Transparent Teeth Symptoms
Sensitivity and Toothache
Sensitivity to acidic and sweet foods, extremely cold and hot temperatures, and tooth pain are some of the signs of enamel erosion.
If the enamel gets eroded by acids, you may end up with a dry mouth. This is especially detrimental to teeth health because saliva provides an alkaline environment and enzymes that help fight cavities. Without sufficient saliva, your teeth are at a higher risk of enamel erosion and decay from bacteria and acidic/sugary foods.
Canker sores that are always coming back can be caused by high acidity, that’s also causing your enamel to wear off. Jagged and rough teeth resulting from chipped thin enamel can also cause canker sores.
You’ll notice transparency at the teeth biting edges, colour changes, tooth fractures, and indentions. The biting edges can also become jagged and rough.
Thin or transparent teeth will require treatment to prevent further complications, including more severe tooth damage. Depending on the severity of the enamel loss, your dentist can recommend any of the following treatment options:
In this treatment, the dentist applies composite resin to the affected teeth. Bonding treats the cosmetic problems that transparent teeth cause and protects the enamel. Tooth bonding is ideal for minimally to moderately damaged or discoloured teeth.
If the transparent teeth are weak, thin, or chipping at the edges, the dentist can recommend that you get crowns. Dental crowns are installed over your natural teeth to provide structure and protection.
Depending on your preference and budget, you can choose between full cast metal crowns, porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns or full ceramic crowns. The latter give superior aesthetics, especially when crowning front teeth.
Dental veneers function like protective shells covering your teeth and help address minor to moderate discolourations and damage to teeth. They also help protect against enamel erosion since they replace the naturally protective natural enamel.
This process involves promoting enamel remineralisation and repair by applying a coating of Recaldent, calcium phosphate, and/or sodium fluoride.
What Causes My Dental Enamel to Break Down?
Dental enamel breaks down for several reasons. The most common is acid erosion caused by feeding on acidic beverages and foods. Acid erosion might also be caused by stomach acid because of acid reflux, heartburn, bulimia, and morning sickness. The translucency of your teeth can also be a symptom of Coeliac disease which can cause poor enamel development.
Enamel translucency can also be caused by enamel hypoplasia. This condition affects the enamel at the early stages of enamel development and causes the teeth to lose minerals, leading to a translucent appearance.
Is There a Way to Prevent Teeth from Becoming Transparent?
Translucent teeth caused by Coeliac disease, enamel hypoplasia and other genetic or developmental conditions cannot be prevented. However, when it’s caused by acid erosion, you can prevent it. Acid erosion from acid reflux or feeding on acidic foods can be avoided by reducing the consumption of these products.
In the case of acid reflux, you can have it treated by a doctor. In some cases, dentists are the first professionals to alert patients of acid reflux diseases, especially if reflux mainly occurs at night and the patient is unaware. At the dental level, fluoride can help reduce dental effects from acid exposure. Several products can be prescribed based on your situation.
When to Contact Your Dentist
When you first notice signs of tooth discolouration, you should get in touch with your dentist. If the situation is not addressed, the discolouration may escalate into a worse complication, including fractures and tooth indentations.
If you develop any of the following symptoms, you should contact your dentist immediately:
- Discoloured teeth
- Canker sores
- Dry mouth
- Tooth sensitivity
The dentist will present you with an appropriate treatment option depending on the damage to your enamel.
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Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at its disposal.