If you’ve had cavities (caries) and tooth sensitivity, you’ve probably heard about enamel breakdown. A growing trend of tooth remineralization is gaining popularity. But, is it true? Can you really remineralize teeth? At Benchmark Dental we say you can. Don’t believe the hype and don’t kiss your dentist goodbye because the keys to remineralization will require some tried and true methods. We’ll give you the keys to your dental health.
Even though tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the body, stronger even than bone, tooth enamel can break down or demineralize. One fact that may surprise you is that your own saliva aids in remineralization naturally, BUT your health and diet play a vital role in how effective your saliva can be.
Plaque can start to harden on teeth if it’s not removed after eating, and when this hardening starts, enamel begins breaking down from the overactive bacteria in the plaque growth. Demineralization then wins out and cavities can run rampant.
Diet, hygiene and overall physical health also impact how well teeth can remineralize and protect themselves naturally. Dry mouth from medications and tooth decay from over-consumption of soda and starchy and sugary foods are just two enemies of remineralization [Source: ADA].
When your body is healthy and your pH is balanced, your own saliva carries calcium and phosphates to naturally heal demineralization. Once lost, the enamel never fully regains its original hardness, but there are steps you can take to aid in remineralization.
- Chewing Gum:
- Chewing sugar-free gum after eating helps increase saliva flow and washes away food acids.[Source: Remineralization of Teeth]
- Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that has been shown to have non-cariogenic [non-cavity causing] effects. Cariogenic bacteria cannot process xylitol well, which produces little acid or plaque. The habitual use of xylitol is associated with a significant reduction in caries and increased tooth remineralization. [Source: Oral Health Group]
- Fluoride Toothpaste:
- Mild abrasives scrub away surface stains.
- Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and remineralizes teeth. All ADA-Accepted toothpastes contain fluoride.
- Some toothpastes contain other helpful ingredients:
- Potassium nitrate or strontium chloride helps reduce tooth sensitivity.
- Stannous fluoride and triclosan help reduce gingivitis.
- Pyrophosphates, triclosan, and zinc citrate help reduce a build-up of hardened plaque (tartar).
- Modified silica abrasives or enzymes can help whiten teeth by physically removing surface stains.
- Triclosan has been shown to help reduce bad breath. [Source: American Dental Association]
- Casein phosphopeptides-amorphous calcium phosphate (CPP-ACP) is a chemical compound made up in part of milk proteins.
- Found in milk, gum, lozenges, rinses, toothpastes, and dental work compounds (those used for filling cavities) [Source: Remineralization of Teeth]
- Regular Maintenance:
- Remineralization can happen in moderation
- Early intervention is important
- Regular brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings are needed to maintain a healthy balance.[Source: Remineralization of Teeth]