What Causes Soft Enamel on Teeth?

Improper brushing may lead to soft enamel on teeth.
A cross section of a tooth.
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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2014
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There are several contributing factors to soft enamel on teeth, including insufficient calcium in the diet and physical trauma to the mouth and jaw region. Soft enamel on teeth may also be due to a type of hereditary disease as well. Not receiving adequate amounts of fluoride may also cause soft enamel on teeth. Diet may also be a factor to some degree.

Tooth enamel may thin or wear down may something simple, such as the type of toothbrush being used. Even an improper technique of brushing may lead to soft enamel problems. When one uses a toothbrush with very hard and stiff bristles, the roughness of the nylon may cause excessive friction on the surface of the teeth. This can lead to a softening effect of enamel.

Many dentists recommend using a toothbrush with medium bristles, rather than hard. With individuals who have sensitivity issues, a soft bristle brush may be best. Overly vigorous brushing can harm tooth enamel over time as well. While it is important to brush thoroughly, it's also important not to brush too firmly or harshly.

Adults and children past the toddler stage should use a toothpaste with fluoride, as this will strengthen and protect tooth enamel. Lack of fluoride is a leading cause of soft enamel in many adults. By reinforcing the teeth with fluoride, a barrier will be formed to guard against tooth decay as well.


Individuals who consistently use toothpastes with harsh abrasives may experience soft enamel or erosion. If a whitening toothpaste is used, it should not be on a constant basis unless the toothpaste is specifically made to be non-abrasive and gentle. Any harsh additives will gradually scratch the teeth and wear down enamel.

Enamel softness can sometimes be attributed to diet, especially if one consumes fruit high in acid. Many beverages, especially carbonated drinks, may also contribute to this problem. While it may not be necessary to eliminate these foods from the diet, consuming them in moderation may help counteract the effects.

Chemical trauma, such as the use of certain prescription medications and drugs, may cause erosion of tooth enamel. This generally takes a long period of time, possibly years, for the effects to be seen. Individuals who have been taking certain medications over an extended period of time may be prone to tooth enamel issues, and should consult with a dentist for ways to avoid this.

For many individuals, heredity determines the structure, strength, and general health of teeth. Those who are prone to soft tooth enamel may have been predisposed to this through genetics. In such cases, it may be important to avoid abusive treatment to teeth.


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