Have you ever looked at your smile in the mirror and noticed that you could see through parts of your teeth? Believe it or not, teeth can actually become translucent over time. While you will never be able to see through your entire tooth, you may be able to see through the edges. At this point, you are probably wondering why this is and if you need to do anything about it.
Your teeth can become translucent when the enamel erodes and loses its color. As the enamel loses its color, it allows the color of the underlying dentin layer to become visible. Dentin can be a yellow or gray color, which can make your teeth take on a tinted appearance. However, since dentin does not extend all the way to the edges of your teeth, these edges will remain translucent since the enamel has become colorless.
Enamel erosion can have a variety of causes. However, some things can cause more erosion than others. Generally speaking, the more erosion that happens, the more translucent your teeth will become. Some common causes of enamel erosion include:
Acids in Foods and Beverages
Many of the things you eat and drink on a daily basis contain acids, some of which contain higher acid concentrations than others. Acids in foods and beverages can decrease the pH in your mouth. Since enamel begins to demineralize around 5.5 pH, lowering the pH in your mouth significantly increases the likelihood of tooth decay and enamel erosion. Some foods and beverages that are especially acidic are citrus fruits and sodas.
Minimizing the amount of acidic foods and beverages in your diet is one extremely effective way to prevent translucent teeth from developing or becoming worse. Another way to decrease the amount of damage done to your teeth is to drink water immediately after eating or drinking something acidic. This helps to neutralize the acids and returns your mouth to its normal pH.
In some cases, your tooth enamel can erode as a result of certain medical conditions. Generally speaking, medical conditions such as heartburn, acid reflux, bulimia, morning sickness, or any other condition that causes frequent vomiting, regularly exposes the teeth to more acid than normal. Unfortunately, stomach acid has a very low pH and is highly corrosive to the tooth enamel. In some cases, Celiac’s disease can also affect the development of tooth enamel and lead to translucent teeth. In these cases, seeking treatment for the medical condition becomes important for both your oral and overall health. Additionally, decreasing acidic foods can also help with acid-related medical conditions.
Enamel hypoplasia is a condition that affects the development of tooth enamel in both the primary and permanent teeth. People affected by enamel hypoplasia generally have enamel that is thinner than normal and that is accompanied by pits, grooves, and/or white spots of the surface of the tooth. In rare cases, the enamel may never form. People with enamel hypoplasia are more likely to be affected by translucent teeth since they already have less enamel than normal. However, enamel hypoplasia is not nearly as common as the first two causes.
Dr. Alina Huang has been practicing dentistry in Manhattan for the last eight years. She was born in New York City, and raised in California where she received her Bachelor’s degree at UCLA, and her D.D.S. at the University of the Pacific in San Francisco. She then made her return to NYC where she completed her General Practice Residency at Montefiore Medical Center and has been working in private practice ever since. She continues her learning by attending courses to stay current with the latest advancements in dentistry and refine her skills.