While enamel might be the hardest material in the human body, it is — unfortunately — not indestructible. In fact, despite its rather rugged exterior, enamel is particularly prone to the negative effects of tooth decay. Though we typically think of tooth decay causing cavities, tooth decay also contributes to another process known as demineralization. But what is demineralization and what can be done to treat it? We’ve got the answers:
Demineralization: An Overview
Demineralization occurs when the acidic byproduct of plaque wears away at the enamel of the teeth. Enamel, which is formed by minerals, obtains much of its strength and hardness from mineral compounds such as calcium and phosphate. When a tooth is subjected to tooth decay the minerals in the tooth begin to wear away (hence “demineralization”) and make the enamel in the tooth become porous, sometimes leading to cavities or other dental issues. Though it may sound scary, demineralization is a natural occurrence in the lifetime of a tooth. The body is continuously working to counteract the effects of demineralization, through another process which we’ll discuss in the next section.
Remineralization: Solving the Problem
When it comes to remineralization we’re typically discussing one of two different methods of remineralization:
Natural Remineralization — As previously mentioned, demineralization is a natural process the body undergoes throughout the day-to-day life of a tooth. This would be a problem if our bodies didn’t have a way to properly combat demineralization. Luckily, our bodies are cleverly designed, and we are able to neutralize most of the negative effects of demineralization through our saliva. Saliva, in fact, has a dual function in combatting remineralization. First, saliva helps to neutralize and wash away the acids and sugars that can contribute to the sources of demineralization. Second, saliva uses calcium and other minerals that are taken in during regular consumption of food and drink and delivers those minerals to the teeth through the saliva in your mouth. Over time, these minerals reattach and remineralize the tooth.
Fluoride Therapy — Make no mistake though, saliva isn’t some magical substance than can just heal your teeth regardless of the severity of the problem. When it comes to severe cases, dentists or other oral health professionals may prescribe a fluoride therapy treatment. Fluoride is known to help reduce the rate of tooth decay dramatically by helping protect the enamel from plaque. Likewise, fluoride is believed to help improve the speed and success of the natural remineralization of the body.
If you have any questions about the demineralization of teeth, treatment for demineralization or would simply like to schedule your regular appointment with Dr. Jahangiri, contact Noble Smile Family & Cosmetic Dentistry today.