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Updated on October 18, 2022

Why Are My Teeth Translucent?

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Tooth enamel is a hard, white substance that covers the crown of your tooth. It protects teeth from decay and infection. When enamel is damaged, teeth can look transparent or translucent.

Understanding Enamel Breakdown

Tooth erosion typically occurs when acids dissolve tooth enamel. Erosion causes irreversible loss of the outer tooth shell. Tooth damage can happen when there’s no enamel left to protect it.

Signs of dental erosion include sensitive teeth, yellowing or darkening as the dentin underneath the enamel becomes visible, and transparency along the biting edges.

7 Possible Causes of Translucent Teeth

Celiac disease

Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disorder caused by consuming gluten. It affects an estimated 2 million Americans.1

People with celiac disease experience a wide range of gastrointestinal symptoms. Celiac disease also affects dental health and may cause enamel coating to become translucent. People with this condition often have translucent teeth.

Enamel hypoplasia

Enamel hypoplasia is a genetic condition that can cause tooth decay and premature tooth loss. It occurs due to a lack of tooth mineralization, which thins the enamel. Enamel hypoplasia leaves these areas susceptible to caries (tooth decay) and fractures.2

Acidic erosion

A diet high in acidic food and beverages, such as sodas and citrus fruits, can harm teeth. Acidic erosion is where acids wear down teeth surfaces. This weakens and damages the enamel.3

The measure of acidity in foods and drinks is called the pH level. Loss of tooth enamel happens when the pH level is under 4.0.

For comparison, water has a pH level of 7.0. Many sour sweets, for example, have a pH level of 3.0 and under. These can weaken and wear away tooth enamel, leading to translucence. 4

Xerostomia (dry mouth)

Saliva neutralizes acids from foods and beverages. Xerostomia is a condition where the saliva does not flow well. Various factors can cause this, such as:

  • Medications
  • Disease
  • Side effects of certain drugs
  • Certain medical conditions

Experts refer to xerostomia as dry mouth syndrome. Dry mouth syndrome can lead to malnutrition, dehydration, tooth decay, and gum disease.

People with this condition may also experience cracked lips and dry skin. It can cause serious problems in the body that are not easily visible.6

Acid reflux 

Acid reflux is a disorder in which highly corrosive stomach acid flows into the esophagus. This causes heartburn and difficulty swallowing. An abnormal motion of the lower esophageal sphincter also causes acid reflux.7

Enamel may wear down over time due to frequent exposure to stomach acid, which the stomach uses to break down food. If left untreated, acid reflux can develop into gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a more severe version of acid reflux.

Brushing too hard

Brushing too hard isn’t immediately noticeable, but over time it will cause enamel erosion. Brushing too aggressively or with a hard-bristled toothbrush can still damage teeth, and does not necessarily make your teeth cleaner. 

Frequent vomiting

Frequent vomiting, such as that caused by morning sickness or eating disorders, can expose acid to your teeth. When this happens, the highly corrosive stomach acid wears away the tooth’s surface. This causes enamel erosion.

Can You Prevent Tooth Translucence? 

You cannot prevent some causes of translucent teeth. This includes celiac disease and enamel hypoplasia. However, you can manage other conditions to prevent the enamel from thinning. Here are some tips:

  • Using a straw — Using a straw helps avoid erosion caused by acidic beverages.
  • Wait before brushing — Waiting at least 30 minutes after eating or drinking acidic food and drinks can help prevent further enamel erosion.
  • Dietary changes — Avoiding sugary foods and drinks limits acidic erosion damage to your teeth.

You may also be able to remineralize your teeth using specialized products from your dentist. Tooth remineralization is a process where minerals, such as calcium and phosphate, replace the tooth enamel.

You can remineralize your teeth through various methods. These include:

  • Brushing teeth with specialized toothpaste
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Drinking fluoridated water
  • Eating foods rich in calcium and phosphate

Tooth remineralization is a process that helps prevent cavities and restores shine to teeth.8

How to Fix Translucent Teeth

Fixing translucent teeth is not always possible because enamel loss is irreversible.

Once enamel is lost, it will not reform.9

There are ways to prevent enamel from eroding further. Some treatments can even restore the appearance of teeth. Most of the time, restoring the teeth is a purely cosmetic issue. However, enamel loss can sometimes lead to complications such as tooth decay.

Natural Remedies

Some natural remedies you can try to reduce damage to your teeth include:

  • Managing acid reflux people with acid reflux should avoid acidic foods and drinks or take medications when needed to prevent acid reflux symptoms.
  • Schedule regular dental cleanings visiting your dentist every 6 months for check-ups and cleanings maintains your oral health.
  • Increasing saliva chewing on sugar-free gum can increase saliva production, which helps prevent acids from damaging enamel.
  • Boost water intake drinking plenty of water washes away acids in your mouth after eating and drinking. It can also thin saliva, allowing it to flow freely, which helps protect the teeth.

Professional Treatments

There are also professional treatments that can restore the look of your teeth:

  • Bonding dentists apply composite resin to the teeth, which remedies the cosmetic issues of translucent teeth. The resin also leaves a protective layer on the teeth, preventing enamel erosion from worsening.
  • Crowns crowns protect and strengthen tooth structure, and your dentist may recommend them if you have severe tooth erosion.
  • Veneers dental veneers are thin porcelain shells cemented onto the front of your teeth, giving a uniform look.10, 11

Summary

Enamel erosion is a condition in which the protective layer of your teeth weakens. Acidic food and drink typically cause this condition, but underlying issues, such as celiac disease or acid reflux, can also cause it.

Translucent-appearing teeth are an early sign of enamel erosion. It is often an early indication of future tooth decay and gum disease. Therefore, visit your dentist for treatment as soon as possible if you have translucent teeth.

11 Sources Cited
Last updated on October 18, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “Definition & Facts for Celiac Disease,” 2020.
  2. Folayan, Morenike Oluwatoyin, et al. “Malnutrition, enamel defects, and early childhood caries in preschool children in a sub-urban Nigeria population,” PLoS One, 2020.
  3. Oral Health Foundation. “Dental erosion,” n.d.
  4. Minnesota Dental Association. “The Effects of Sour Candy on Oral Health,” n.d.
  5. Better Health Channel. “Dental erosion,” 2022.
  6. American Dental Association. “Xerostomia (Dry Mouth),” 2021.
  7. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “Definition & Facts for GER & GERD,” 2020.
  8. Arifa, Mando, K., et al. “Recent Advances in Dental Hard Tissue Remineralization: A Review of Literature,” International Journal of Pediatric Dentistry, 2019.
  9. Jayasudha, et al. “Enamel Regeneration - Current Progress and Challenges,” Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, 2014.
  10. Your Smile Becomes You. “Porcelain Veneers,” n.d.
  11. American Dental Association. “Veneers,” n.d.
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