What You Should Know About Translucent Teeth

While most people’s teeth are an opaque white, others may have parts that look
somewhat see-through. Here’s what you need to know about this common dental concern, and what you can do to address the issue.

What Causes Translucent Teeth?

The most common cause of translucent teeth is acid erosion. When teeth are exposed to acids, their hard enamel covering begins to erode. Enamel erosion can be a result of exposure to acids in food, drink, or bile.

If you consume a high amount of soft drinks, fruit juices or other sugary foods you are susceptible to acid erosion and translucent teeth.

Exposure to stomach acid can also erode tooth enamel. This is often the case when someone suffers from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Bulimics or those with morning sickness are also prone to acid erosion.

Celiac disease is another common factor, as it can inhibit the body’s development of enamel and nutrient retention. Celiac disease sufferers may also have banded discoloration as well as some pitted areas on their teeth.

There is also a genetic condition with a side effect known as enamel hypoplasia. This is something that can affect an individual's teeth during the early stages of their development. It can result in a person experiencing hypomineralization, which is a loss of minerals that give the teeth a more translucent appearance.

How Can Transparent Teeth be Treated?

Once a person has lost the enamel on their teeth, it is gone forever. Unlike other parts of the body, enamel has no living cells and thus cannot be repaired on its own. For this reason, people looking to repair their enamel must turn to cosmetic dentistry procedures.

Bonding is a common option for addressing translucent teeth. A minimally invasive cosmetic treatment, bonding can bring back the proper look of a person's teeth in one dental appointment.

It involves a dentist placing a composite resin on a person's teeth. This will then be molded to fit the shape of an individual's mouth. Once the resin is made into the correct shape it is hardened and polished.

Another solution is veneers. Veneers are very thin pieces of porcelain that are permanently placed on the front surface of an individual's teeth. In most cases, veneer application will require two visits to a dentist.

Some dentists have the veneers they use developed in labs offsite. Once the veneers are ready, a dentist will prepare the surface of the teeth by taking away a small amount of enamel. This ensures a proper fit. Once this is done, the dentist cements the veneers into place on a person’s teeth.

Preventing Transparent Teeth

There are certain situations where transparent teeth can't be prevented. This includes genetic conditions like enamel hypoplasia or celiac disease.

However, many factors are under a person's control. In order for an individual to decrease their chances of acid eating away at the enamel on their teeth, limiting certain foods helps. This includes fruit juices, sodas and other beverages and foods that naturally contain some type of acid.

When a person eats or drinks acidic food and beverages, rinsing their mouth out with water when they are finished is an effective way to remove most of the residue.

Dentists also advise people to wait a minimum of 30 minutes after exposing their teeth to acids before brushing their teeth. When brushing is done too soon it can damage the enamel on their teeth.

Strengthening the Enamel

Even though it is not possible for a person's body to make new enamel on their teeth, it's still important for people to realize they will benefit from strengthening and repairing the enamel that remains on their teeth.

This can be done through a process known as remineralization. It involves using products that have calcium and fluoride in them. Many of these products are designed so a person can apply them in the areas of their teeth where the enamel has started to erode.

Research conducted by the American Dental Association (ADA) has shown that fluoride will serve as a protective barrier between the drink and foods a person consumes, and the enamel on their teeth. 

It's also possible to use special types of toothpaste that replenish the calcium at any weak areas on a person's tooth enamel. This is a good way to patch up areas on teeth where erosion has occurred. It also stops further damage to the enamel.

Should someone notice a change in their teeth that has caused them to be more translucent, they may be experiencing enamel damage. This is when it's important to speak with a dentist, who will be able to provide treatment to correct the situation and protect the remaining enamel.

About the Author

Chris Barry is a staff writer and senior editor for Zwivel. He has written stories on everything from motorcycle gangs in the Caribbean to traveling the USA with Ringo Starr. His articles have been published in such high – and sometimes low – profile publications as Vice, Maxim and The National Post.

Aurora is the lead editor here at pearlywhytes.com. She is one of those people who actually likes going to the dentist. She loves to write about anything health related, but oral health is her most passionate topic. Her free time is spent partaking in family activities and experimenting in the kitchen.