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Translucent teeth: Why do teeth go see-through and how can you fix them?

Contributors:  

Are you worried about translucent teeth? If it looks like your teeth are going clear or see-through around the edges, it's likely because of thinning enamel. Even people who take good care of their oral health can suffer from translucent teeth.

man with translucent teeth
Are you worried about teeth becoming see through?

In this article, we will explore the reasons teeth begin to appear translucent around the edges. We'll also answer the following questions so you can better address this issue:

  • Why are my teeth see through at the bottoms?
  • Is it normal for teeth to look clear around the edges?
  • What are common symptoms associated with translucent teeth?
  • Can I prevent my teeth from becoming see through?
  • How can you fix translucent teeth?

Let’s get started.

Why are my teeth see through?

As you might already be aware, our teeth have an outer layer of protective enamel. It’s the first line of defence our teeth have against elements that are damaging to our oral health. The reason that our teeth appear that pearly white colour is because of the semi-transparent enamel that coats the yellow layer of dentin underneath. 

translucent teeth tips diagram
The outer enamel is naturally translucent

If you start to lose this enamel coating, your teeth may become dull or translucent and, in some cases, have a wax-like appearance. When this happens, it can make your teeth look extremely thin!

If you have noticed signs of your teeth going clear at the tips, it could be that the enamel is slowly wearing off. If this happens, the damage is irreversible and it can lead to serious issues. Here are some of the possible reasons for tooth enamel erosion:

  • Celiac Disease: Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease caused by eating gluten. While the most commonly known symptoms of Celiac Disease are gastrointestinal, other symptoms can occur as a result, such as poor enamel coating which can lead to translucent teeth. 
  • Enamel Hypoplasia: This is a genetic condition that leads to thin tooth enamel, and consequently, translucent teeth. A study by the British Dental Journal finds that Enamel Hypoplasia causes hypomineralisation, which results in teeth going see through around the edges. This condition can cause translucent baby teeth as well as adult teeth.
  • Acid Erosion: Acid Erosion is caused by eroding agents such as foods and beverages that are acidic or have high-sugar content. This includes many carbonated drinks, fruit juices and sweets. Food and drink that contain these eroding agents can cause permanent damage to tooth enamel leaving teeth see through.

While it's a good idea to read up on the common causes for your teeth going clear, and the preventative measures that you can take, it's always advisable to get to the root of the problem.

We always recommend speaking with a professional when you have concerns about your dental health. The NHS can provide treatment to keep your teeth healthy, and pain-free. However, some treatments for translucent teeth may not be covered by your NHS dentist so we recommend speaking with them to clarify which services are available.

Are translucent teeth normal?

Whether the causes of translucent teeth are genetic, or the result of acidic erosion, you should certainly get them checked out the next time you visit your dentist.

Problems arising from clear teeth can become a cause for concern if the erosion begins to affect your oral health. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, yet even with slow erosion, over time, your enamel can wear away. We recommend regular dentist visits for a possible early diagnosis.

Common symptoms associated with translucent teeth

Even though the enamel coating protects our teeth from a variety of harmful agents, symptoms from transparent or translucent teeth can become quite noticeable, even in the early stages. Long before tooth erosion becomes apparent, you may experience the following symptoms depending on the severity of the damage:

sensitivity from see through teeth
Toothache is a common symptom
associated with Translucent Teeth
  • Sensitivity and toothache: Tooth sensitivity generally occurs while eating hot or cold food. It can include sharp tooth pain when you eat something really cold, and you may also experience significant discomfort in the form of toothache.
  • Dry mouth: Dry mouth is the result of a reduction in saliva production. When this happens the pH balance in your mouth can drop and become more acidic due to the lack of saliva present to maintain balance. This can also expose your teeth to a higher risk of erosion if the consistency of your saliva is not thick enough to form a protective layer over your teeth.
  • Canker sores: Canker sores may start appearing in your mouth and on your tongue if acidic agents are the cause of enamel erosion and the pH balance in your mouth drops.
  • Visual changes: After any significant damage to your tooth enamel, you might notice colour changes, surface indentations, and in the worst-case scenario, tooth fractures.

How can I prevent translucent teeth?

While there is no preventing transparent teeth due to genetic disorders such as enamel hypoplasia or celiac disease, you can still adopt preventive measures against acidic erosion.

The best method of prevention is to practice impeccable oral hygiene with regular brushing and flossing, using fluoride toothpaste.

Other preventative measures that you can take against enamel erosion are:

  • Boosting and thickening mouth saliva: Chewing sugar-free gum that contains xylitol throughout the day between meals can help boost saliva production and lower the acid level in your mouth. Xylitol can also help strengthen teeth and thicker saliva can coat the enamel and help to fight unwanted bacteria.
  • In-clinic dental cleaning: Visiting your dental practice to see the hygienist twice a year for dental cleaning (scale and polish) is an ideal way to prevent erosion in any form. This is available on the NHS if your dentist decides it's required; if not, you can pay for the treatment privately.
  • Use a straw when drinking acidic drinks: Minimise enamel damage, especially on your front teeth, by using a straw for acidic drinks like fruit juice and fizzy drinks.
  • Drink water: A primary cause of dry mouth and the thinning of saliva is not consuming enough water. So, make sure you stay hydrated throughout the day. Gargling with water after meals is also a great way to wash away the acids trapped in your mouth, and helps to lower the pH level in your mouth.
  • Manage acid reflux: If you are suffering from acid reflux or GORD, be mindful of consuming spicy and highly acidic foods.
  • Remineralising Toothpaste: Use a special remineralising toothpaste to help strengthen your tooth enamel. Remineralising your enamel will help to improve oral hygiene, reduce dental pain and decrease tooth sensitivity.

In the following video, a Dental Hygienist explains the importance and benefits of getting a regular scale and polish to improve your oral hygiene and prevent any future dental problems.

We have only 1 set of adult teeth in our lifetime and they're under a constant threat of plaque build up and staining that can lead to gum disease and decay. Visiting a dental hygienist will help ensure that these daily threats are kept at bay long term and mouth in good health. Our short video demonstrates the great benefits of having a 'Scale and Polish' and what to expect from a routine dental hygiene appointment. A good note to remember… Dental Hygienist = Prevention Dentist = Cure

Can translucent teeth be fixed?

While there is no way to reverse translucent teeth, there are a few treatments that can protect against sensitivity and improve the appearance of teeth that are going see-through.

Veneers

Dental veneers can be used to cover and protect translucent teeth. These wafer-thin shells form a protective layer over your teeth. Veneers can also help with gaps between your teeth, discolouration, and minor misalignment.

Bonding

Composite bonding involves applying a composite resin to your teeth, which is then moulded to fit your mouth. Once shaped, it is hardened and polished to provide a natural look. It is possible to apply without removing any enamel from your teeth.

Crowns

Depending on the severity of damage to your tooth enamel, your dentist may suggest dental crowns. These fit over the top of the damaged tooth to repair it and provide protection and strength.

Here's some more information about the benefits of each of these treatments and how much it costs to fix translucent teeth in these ways:

Treatment

Benefits 

Average Cost Per Tooth 

Veneers 

  • Natural looking

  • Don't stain 

  • Durable, can last for 10-20 years

  • Provide extra strength to translucent teeth or teeth with slight damage 

£400 – £1,000

Composite Bonding 

  • Less expensive than porcelain veneers 

  • Can be fitted without removing any tooth enamel

  • Last up to 5 years 

£100 - £400

Dental Crowns 

  • Restore a damaged tooth 

  • Strengthen a tooth weakened by decay or enamel erosion

  • Improve cosmetic appearance 

NHS: £282.80

Private: £250 - £800 

Patients who have significant enamel erosion and need dental crowns to protect their teeth, may be eligible for NHS treatment.

But in cases where see-through teeth are purely a cosmetic issue, you'll need to fund your treatment privately. Depending on the number of teeth requiring repair, you may consider travelling abroad for veneers to save significantly on the cost.

Conclusion

my teeth are see through
Better oral hygiene is an ideal defense against translucent teeth

The best way to avoid getting see-through or translucent teeth is to maintain a healthy oral hygiene routine. While the enamel erosion in your mouth may be caused by a genetic condition or another medical condition, better oral hygiene can always help.

If you notice any changes to your teeth, consulting a dentist for an early diagnosis will enable you to minimise the damage.

FAQs

What causes translucent teeth?

Translucent teeth are caused by the erosion of enamel that can happen as a result of hereditary genetic conditions or by consuming acidic food and beverages.

Why are the bottoms of my teeth clear?

The semi-translucent enamel coating that covers our teeth means it's normal for them to appear off-white, a little bit yellow, clear blue or grey-white in colour. The reason for the transparent bottoms of your teeth is that this enamel coating has slowly worn away. If you notice see-through edges appearing on your teeth this is a visible sign of dental enamel erosion.

Can tooth enamel grow back?

There are several products out there that promise to restore or regrow lost tooth enamel. Unfortunately, unlike your nails and hair which grow back once cut, tooth enamel doesn't regenerate naturally.

You can do a lot to protect and strengthen your existing tooth enamel, but once it has eroded, it is gone forever. However, there are ways to remineralise your teeth and prevent further damage.

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Contributors:
Amanda Napitu
Amanda Napitu
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Amanda specialises in writing informative content about dentistry. She has been a regular contributor to Dentaly.org since 2017, and collaborates with dozens of dentists to keep this content accurate and up-to-date.
Sources
Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine: Enamel hypoplasia of primary canine. Consulted 12th May 2020. ISRN Dentistry: Dental Enamel Development. Consulted 13th May 2020.