The enamel is your teeth’s protective layer. It’s a hard substance that covers every tooth and is actually actually the first thing you see. It’s so sturdy that it has earned the title of being the hardest substance in a person’s body. In other words, the enamel is even sturdier than your very own bones! However, it’s not completely invincible and will break down due to wear and tear and exposure to acid. This is why it is so important that we neutralize acids or eliminate them (and bacteria) by brushing our teeth.

So what happens when the enamel becomes thin? For one, your teeth become more sensitive to changes in temperature as well as friction. That’s why you might feel pain when you drink something warm like coffee or tea or eat something cold like ice cream. Tooth sensitivity is the first thing you’ll notice when the enamel begins to erode.

Although the enamel is the hardest substance in the body, it can be weakened by sugary foods and those rich with citrus—although citrus foods still have a lot of healthy benefits, so don’t cut them off just yet. Think of soda and candy as the enemy here. So it’s best to control your consumption of these food and beverages.

As the erosion in your enamel progresses, you might start noticing some discoloration in your teeth. This means that the dentin, the second layer of the teeth, right underneath the enamel, is getting exposed. It may also appear and feel rougher, chipped, or more rounded. The worst-case scenario is tooth decay, in which case your dentist may ultimately have to extract the tooth.

So how do you repair thin enamel? Can you do it naturally?

One of the reasons why the enamel is extremely tough is because it’s not actual living tissue. So you can’t naturally regenerate it, neither can you artificially regrow it. What you can do is remineralize the enamel by depositing calcium and phosphates back into the teeth. So the secret weapon to repair thin enamel is actually quite simple and affordable—fluoride and other remineralizing solutions. That’s right, all you need to do to repair thin enamel is brush your teeth with toothpaste regularly.

Other things you can do to repair thin enamel is to preemptively cut out sugar. In other words, go sugar-free and find other substitute sweeteners if you really can’t help it. But definitely stay away from candies—especially the sour ones! You should also eat fruits moderately and rinse your mouth with water after enjoying them. You don’t need to cut them out of your diet, just moderate your intake, especially since they have valuable health benefits!