Minerals such as calcium and phosphate help make up tooth enamel, along with bone and dentin. They also prevent tooth decay and subsequent cavities.
As you age, you lose the minerals in your teeth. This may be caused by eating sugary and acidic foods. It also occurs when bacteria accumulate in your mouth. Once the enamel or bone are gone, there’s no way to get them back without replacing the tooth entirely.
However, it is possible to help replenish these minerals with lifestyle changes and home remedies before tooth decay occurs. This process is known as remineralization. You can also stop demineralization in its tracks.
Talk to your dentist about the following treatment measures to help remineralize your teeth and help stop demineralization. Demineralization and remineralization are interrelated and in constant flux.
Brushing your teeth is important for removing bacteria. Cavities (also called dental caries) are primarily caused by the accumulation of Streptococcus mutans bacteria in your mouth.
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Not just any toothpaste will work against demineralization.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends fluoride toothpaste. In fact, toothpaste won’t get the ADA Seal of Acceptance unless it contains fluoride.
Fluoride toothpaste may prevent tooth decay and can also strengthen your teeth, making them less susceptible to future mineral loss.
Your dentist has likely warned you about sugar in the past, and for good reason. Sugar is highly acidic and interacts with bacteria in the mouth by breaking down tooth enamel.
In other words, eating sugary foods in small amounts on a regular basis can do more harm than eating the occasional sugar-laden dessert.
The role of gum in oral health has been debated for decades, but studies are showing that sugarless versions may actually promote tooth remineralization.
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Gum may also act as a barrier to block mineral loss. Xylitol and sorbitol appear to be the most promising sugar-free ingredients. To reap the remineralization benefits of sugarless gum, consider chewing after or between meals.
While fruit is part of a healthy, balanced diet, it can also be highly acidic. Some of the worst culprits are citrus fruits, such as grapefruit and oranges.
Fruit acids create a process of calcium chelation on tooth enamel. This means that the acids bind to calcium and strip it away. Fruit juices are even worse, as these are highly acidic and often contain added sugars.
Your best bet is to stay away from juices and to eat acidic fruits only on occasion.
While calcium is produced within the teeth naturally, this important mineral is stripped by acids and bacteria over time. You can replace calcium by eating calcium-rich foods. For example,
If your diet is deficient in calcium, talk to your doctor about possible supplementation.
A 2012 study found that taking vitamin D supplements may help protect against cavities. Ask your doctor or dentist about taking vitamin D supplements.
You should also talk to them about daily multivitamins to be sure you’re getting other needed vitamins for healthy teeth.
When considering probiotics for remineralization, it’s important to choose strains that are naturally produced in the mouth. That way, you’re replacing the good bacteria without introducing potentially harmful strains.
The following probiotics are potentially helpful in oral health and remineralization:
You can find probiotics in supplement form and certain yogurt brands also contain probiotics. You’ll need to take these daily for the best results.
Dry mouth occurs when there isn’t enough saliva production. Saliva is not only important in keeping your mouth feeling comfortable, but it also helps prevent cavities.
If you have dry mouth, talk to your dentist about chewing gums and rinses you can use to increase saliva activity.
Starchy foods, such as potatoes, rice, and bread, are loaded with simple carbohydrates. These increase the amount of fermentable sugars in the mouth, which can erode your teeth.
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Water continues to be the preferred beverage of choice by doctors, nutritionists, and dentists. It’s not only naturally sugar-free, but it also helps remove harmful substances from the body.
Rinsing your mouth out with water may also help reduce demineralization when you don’t have a toothbrush on hand. This technique may be especially helpful after eating acidic or sugary foods.
While coffee and tea aren’t completely off-limits, they do little to remineralize your teeth. Plus, these substances can be acidic (especially coffee). Adding sugar can make these drinks even worse when it comes to oral health.
Sodas are also acidic, and often contain sugar, so they should be limited, too.
Mineral loss is inevitable because of the elements that teeth are exposed to every day. From food and drinks, to saliva and bacteria, your teeth are put through a lot of wear and tear. While your teeth are built to take on these elements, too much demineralization can eventually wear them down.
Taking steps to remineralize your teeth and stop any current demineralization, along with regular visits to your dentist, can help keep them healthy.