Translucent or transparent teeth are a common issue. Whether you experience frequent acid reflux or suffer from dry mouth, there are many factors that can cause your teeth to appear see-through, particularly along the bottom edge of your teeth.
While transparent teeth can be a cosmetic nuisance, it’s also important to note that translucent teeth are an early sign of enamel erosion. Enamel is the outermost layer of your tooth that acts as a protective barrier for the more sensitive nerve endings and layers beneath. When the enamel begins to break down, that can lead to other common issues like cavities and tooth sensitivity.
What Causes Translucent Teeth?
Too much acid in the mouth is a common cause of see-through teeth, but there are other factors to consider when you’re trying to pinpoint the exact cause. Here are a few common causes to consider.
Regular consumption of highly acidic food and drink can increase the risk of enamel erosion. The best environment for healthy teeth is a pH level of 7 or higher. For context, pH is measured on a scale of zero to 14, with zero being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline.
By consuming food and drink with high acidic content such as coffee, wine, and vinegar, you’ll take that healthy 7 pH level down closer to zero, which is a prime environment for enamel to begin demineralizing. Demineralization happens when the pH level dips below 5.5.
If you do consume highly acidic food and drink, here are a few tips for minimizing damage to your teeth:
- When consuming a sugary beverage, drink it quickly rather than sipping for an extended period of time. Drink water afterward to help restore the pH balance in your mouth.
- Do not brush your teeth right after drinking a soft drink, wine, cider, beer, or fruit juice. If you brush directly after consuming acidic food or drink, toothbrush bristles will actually thin the enamel of your tooth and cause further damage to your teeth. The American Dental Association recommends brushing 60 minutes after consuming food or beverages to protect your enamel.
- Try to drink coffee with milk rather than a sugary creamer.
- Balance the acidic ingredients of a meal with more alkaline ingredients like sweet corn, rice, and shrimp.
- Chew sugarless gum after an acidic drink. The best type of gum to chew contains xylitol, which encourages saliva production and can help prevent bacteria growth.
- Drink lots of water. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend men should drink 3.7 liters of water a day and women should drink 2.7 liters of water.
Frequent exposure to stomach acid may wear down tooth enamel. If you experience acid reflux regularly, talk to your doctor and dentist about ways you can reduce your symptoms and keep the enamel of your teeth healthy.
Similar to acid reflux, frequent vomiting causes tooth enamel to break down. Chronic conditions like bulimia nervosa or alcoholism are common causes of enamel erosion. When the enamel layer is worn away, the next layers of the tooth may become exposed, leading to pain and sensitivity.
Enamel hypoplasia is a rare genetic condition that causes a lack of mineralization in the teeth, which helps strengthen the enamel. This condition often causes transparent teeth and thin enamel.
Celiac disease is another common cause of translucent teeth. This condition causes an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. While more obvious symptoms are bloating and diarrhea, transparent teeth are also common.
Saliva production helps to clear out acids, plaque, and food from your teeth. That’s why chronic dry mouth sufferers often experience enamel erosion. The acids left in the mouth that saliva production would typically eliminate will break down the tooth enamel.
Chewing gum containing xylitol and certain mouthwashes can help encourage saliva production and minimize the effects of dry mouth. Additionally, sugar-free lemon-flavored hard candies are also great for those experiencing dry mouth because the candies help stimulate saliva production.
How to Prevent Translucent Teeth
Prevention is key when trying to avoid translucent teeth. By making a few minor adjustments to your diet and daily routine, you can help strengthen your tooth enamel and prevent see-through teeth from occurring.
Prevention techniques include:
- Boost saliva production by chewing gum containing xylitol
- Maintain a healthy oral hygiene routine
- Drink lots of water
- Eat healthy foods
- Manage acid reflux
How to Fix Translucent Teeth
If translucent teeth have already started to develop, there are steps you can take with your dentist to improve the appearance of your teeth and repair your enamel.
Dental Treatments for Translucent Teeth
Depending on your specific case, your dentist may recommend one of the following approaches:
Bonding is a treatment that dentists use to address cosmetic concerns. A material called resin is applied to the affected teeth that not only makes your teeth look more uniform, but also strengthens the enamel of your teeth as the resin hardens and acts as a protective shield over your enamel.
Veneers are porcelain shells that are custom-fitted to encase your own natural teeth. Veneers can be used for just one tooth or all of your teeth, depending on your needs. These porcelain shells are then colored and shaped to match your existing teeth. Veneers protect your teeth against further enamel erosion because they act as a replacement for your natural enamel.
A common treatment for cavities, crowns are a good option as they are added on top of your teeth to provide extra protection for your enamel. There’s also the option to choose a porcelain crown for a more natural look.
At-Home Treatments for Translucent Teeth
If you’re wondering how you can fix your translucent teeth naturally at home, here are a few simple steps you can take:
Consume More Calcium
Calcium is one of the most important nutrients to help strengthen your teeth. Calcium gives your enamel a boost to help defend against erosion and cavities.
There are many foods you can eat that will help you get more calcium in your diet. Try incorporating more dishes containing milk, cheese, and other dairy foods, green leafy vegetables, bread and anything made with fortified flour, and sardines or pilchards.
Increase Water Intake
Drinking more water can help neutralize acids in your mouth that cause translucent teeth. Water acts as a natural pH balancer because it has the perfect healthy pH level of 7. Experts recommend that men drink about 3.7 liters of water a day and women should drink about 2.7 liters.
Use Prescription Fluoride Products
Your dentist can provide you with prescription fluoride products to help strengthen your enamel and prevent further breakdown.
Bottom Line: Translucent Teeth Are an Early Sign of Enamel Erosion
If you’re experiencing one or more translucent teeth, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as you can to begin a treatment plan to minimize further damage to your enamel. No matter what stage of enamel erosion your teeth are at, your dentist is the best resource to help you minimize the appearance and symptoms that come with translucent teeth to give you a stronger and healthier smile.