Demineralization, Remineralization, and How They Affect Your Teeth

Jul 15, 2013

While enamel might be the hardest material in the human body, it is — unfortunately — not indestructible. In fact, despite its rather rugged exterior, the enamel is particularly prone to the harmful 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.

Moreover, this guide will address how to prevent tooth demineralization and explain remineralizing teeth process.

What is Demineralization?

Demineralization of teeth occurs when the acidic by-product 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 porous, sometimes leading to cavities or other dental issues. Though bone demineralization definition may sound scary, demineralization is a natural occurrence in the lifetime of a tooth. The body is continuously working to counteract the effects of tooth 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. We can neutralize most of the adverse effects of demineralization through our saliva. Saliva, in fact, has a dual function in combating enamel remineralization. First, saliva helps neutralize and wash away the acids and sugars that can contribute to teeth demineralization. Second, saliva uses calcium and other minerals 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 enamel.

Fluoride Therapy — Make no mistake though, saliva isn’t some magical substance that can just heal your teeth regardless of the severity of the problem. In severe cases, dentists or other oral health professionals may prescribe a fluoride therapy treatment. Fluoride helps 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 teeth.

How to Remineralize your Teeth?

At this point, you may be wondering: how to remineralize your teeth, or can you remineralize your teeth in the first place? The answer is yes. There are several ways for natural tooth remineralization. You can also prevent demineralization by maintaining your saliva’s pH levels, following a proper diet, and oral hygiene habits.

Here are some specific ways to keep a well-balanced mouth that’s ready for tooth mineralization:

  • Maintain a proper saliva pH. Chewing sugar-free gum can promote saliva production. You can also swish water in your mouth after eating and drinking.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste, as it’s one of the most common and effective ways to prevent dental demineralization. You can find these toothpastes in most pharmacies.
  • Flossing once a day can eliminate hard-to-reach foods in your mouth, which can be a cause of bacteria or demineralization.
  • Add probiotics to your diet. Dairy products like yogurt contain good bacteria, helping to remineralize teeth’ enamel and reversing cavities.
  • Avoid acidic foods. Acids and sugary foods can compromise your enamel health. They wear away at your protective enamel and can cause demineralization. Small changes, such as choosing sugarless gums instead of traditional junk food, are steps in the right direction.
  • Talk to our general and family dentistry because they can identify cavities or spots in your mouth that lack enamel strength or are demineralized. If caught early, they may prescribe an effective fluoride treatment.

Demineralization from Braces

Demineralization of teeth from braces can likely occur if you don’t follow healthy oral hygiene practices. If you notice the signs of demineralization while using braces, discuss it with your orthodontist at the earliest. You can also opt for other dental alignment solutions, like Invisalign clear braces (which can be removed during cleaning), if you’re concerned regarding demineralization.

Signs of Tooth Remineralization

Now that you understand the strategies to remineralize your teeth, all you have to do is look for the following signs of tooth remineralization:

  • A smooth surface of your teeth
  • Improved appearance
  • Decreased teeth sensitivity
  • Reduction or removal of white spots on your teeth.

If you have any questions about tooth demineralization, treatment for demineralization, or would simply like to schedule your regular appointment with Dr. Jahangiri, contact Noble Smile Family & Cosmetic Dentistry today.