If you have recently noticed that your teeth are translucent to some degree, you may understandably be worried about what this indicates in regards to your oral health. Translucent teeth, however, are not always a sign that something is wrong. In fact, there are several reasons for this phenomenon, each of which will be explained below.
1. The Translucency Is Naturally Occurring
Some translucency occurs naturally and is especially visible in young teeth along the biting surface. A good example of this naturally occurring transparency can be seen with the biting surface of the upper central incisors. This is due to a lack of dentin — the layer of bone-like material that is present in the rest of the tooth.
In fact, this natural translucency of teeth is considered an attractive and desirable quality in the field of dentistry. So much so that dental technicians try to include this quality when creating crown restorations for patient.
2. You Inherited Thin Enamel from Your Parents
Although enamel is thin anyway, with its thickness ranging from 1mm for central incisors and up to 2.5mm for molars, some people inherit thin enamel from their parents. Naturally, this leaves some teeth looking overly transparent. It also means they are more susceptible to erosion and tooth decay as there is less protection than normal.
If the enamel of your teeth is thin, refrain from eating acidic foods and beverages as much as you can. Practice excellent oral hygiene too as allowing plaque to build up on your teeth will invite tooth decay.
3. Plaque Is Demineralising Your Enamel
When you allow plaque — the sticky bio film that contains bacteria and food residue — to build up on your teeth, you are putting your enamel at risk of demineralisation. The acidic by-product secreted by bacterial organisms that thrive on unclean teeth dissolves the calcium, phosphate and other minerals in teeth.
In regards to appearance, teeth in the process of demineralisation may appear cloudy and translucent, especially in individual areas. These areas are referred to by dentists as white spots. White spots are a sign that a tooth may soon develop a cavity.
4. Your Bite Is Misaligned, Causing Wear
Crooked teeth can also cause translucency. For example, if a patient’s lower central incisors do not line up correctly with the central upper incisors, they may rub against each other. Eventually, this wears the enamel surface down, leading to teeth becoming more transparent than usual.
5. Acidic Foods or Beverages Are Dissolving the Enamel
By now, there everyone knows the damage that soft drinks, citrus fruits, and even coffee can do to teeth. However, people still inadvertently cause damage to their enamel by eating foods high in acidic content. Such foods lower the natural pH of saliva, which is 5.5, leading to the demineralisation of the enamel surface of teeth.
This loss of enamel then leads to teeth becoming more translucent over time.
6. The Translucence Is Due to Over-Whitening
Whitening is more popular than ever before. However, some people get a little bit carried away with the frequency of their whitening treatments, whether at home or in-office. Whitening treatments, while safe if used responsibly, do cause the demineralisation of teeth when used too much.
Once a month is too much, a safer timeline would be every 3-4 months while at the same time using whitening tooth paste and staying away from staining foods like coffee.
Although you should also do your own research when trying to identify the cause of translucency in your teeth, it would also be wise for you to seek the professional opinion of a dentist. Once the cause is clear, you and your dentist can decide on an appropriate course of treatment. Even if you are confident that your teeth are in good shape, ensure you check with a dentist at least every 6 months, just to be sure.