Transparent or translucent teeth indicate enamel loss. In such instances, the affected teeth may look clear or see-through along the bottom edges you bite food with. This can lead to complications like discoloration and chips.
A coat of enamel protects your teeth. However, enamel may gradually break down due to certain health conditions and the foods and drinks you consume. As enamel wears off, your teeth may appear transparent.
When not addressed, tooth enamel erosion may spread across the affected teeth, making them look thin and clear. Tooth damage occurs when there’s no protective enamel coating left.
Enamel loss is permanent, so the goal of fixing transparent teeth is to help you prevent further erosion. This is why it’s important to seek help from your dentist at the first sign of tooth transparency.
Transparent teeth are just one sign of enamel erosion, which is caused by:
Acidic foods and drinks. Consuming highly acidic foods and beverages regularly may speed up enamel erosion, leading to transparent teeth.
Acid reflux. Frequent exposure to stomach acid may wear down tooth enamel. When left untreated, acid reflux may lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which may cause more frequent stomach acid regurgitation and subsequent effects on your tooth enamel.
Frequent vomiting. This includes chronic conditions, such as bulimia and alcoholism, as well as acute conditions like pregnancy-related morning sickness.
Enamel hypoplasia. This genetic condition causes a lack of mineralization, a crucial component in making tooth enamel. If you have this condition, you may have transparent teeth along with extremely thin tooth enamel.
Celiac disease. This autoimmune disease is characterized by intestinal damage after consuming gluten in foods. While gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating and diarrhea are common with this condition, many people also have transparent teeth.
Extremely thin and transparent teeth may require treatments to help prevent complications, such as tooth damage.
Depending on the extent of enamel loss, your dentist may recommend one of the following approaches.
During this treatment, your dentist will apply a material called composite resin to the affected teeth. Bonding not only treats cosmetic concerns caused by transparent teeth, but the resin also hardens and leaves a natural protective layer. This prevents further enamel erosion.
Bonding is best for moderately discolored or damaged teeth.
If your transparent teeth are extremely thin, weak, or chipping on the bottoms, then your dentist may recommend crowns. Dental crowns are added on top of your teeth to provide protection and structure.
Depending on your insurance coverage and budget, you may also be able to choose porcelain crowns for a more natural look.
Acting as protective shells that cover your teeth, veneers can help address minor to moderate tooth discoloration and damage.
Veneers may also protect against further enamel erosion because they replace the protective shell of natural enamel.
Good oral health habits may help prevent your teeth from becoming transparent, but this depends on the underlying cause of enamel erosion.
For example, celiac disease and enamel hypoplasia can make it difficult to entirely prevent transparent teeth.
Still, you may be able to prevent translucent teeth caused by acid erosion by:
drinking more water to thicken saliva
chewing on sugar-free gum between meals to boost saliva
drinking out of a straw, if applicable
limiting acidic beverages such as coffee, soda, and lemonade
rinsing out your mouth with water after eating or drinking acidic foods and beverages
waiting at least 1 hour to brush your teeth after you consume an acidic food or beverage
avoiding acidic foods and drinks if you have acid reflux
reducing sugary foods that can lead to tooth decay
You can also help boost your overall oral health by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Make sure you contact your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings every 6 months.
When to contact a dentist
It’s important to contact your dentist at the first sign of tooth discoloration, including transparent-looking teeth. When not addressed, discoloration may lead to further complications, such as tooth indentations and fractures.
You should also contact your dentist if you develop changes to your oral health. The following symptoms may be early warning signs of enamel erosion:
If tooth enamel erosion is suspected, your dentist will go over your treatment options with you. Your treatment will depend on the extent of the enamel damage, and if there’s any further damage to the affected teeth.
It’s better to address this concern sooner rather than later. Such enamel losses are permanent, so it’s important to contact your dentist to prevent further complications.