Tooth Remineralization: What Your Dentist Hasn't Told You About Cavities

Rising Dental Decay

Although there has been improvement in oral health care over time, tooth decay is still on the rise. According to a report by the Department of Health and Human Services, tooth decay affects 25% of children between 2 and 5 years of age. Between 12 and 15 years of age, 50% of the children have tooth decay. For adults, by the time they reach 40 years of age, 90% are affected. In fact, at 60 years of age, 25% have lost all of their teeth.

Treating a Cavity

Traditional Treatment of Cavities

How Cavities are Treated

When you have a cavity, the most common treatment is to drill out the decayed portion and replace it with a dental filling. If the cavity is severe, the tooth may need a crown. Worse yet, if the cavity is left untreated, you may need a root canal.

Many of us dread going to the dentist. Not only is it unpleasant, it is expensive too. However, although your dentist may not mention this or even know this, there may be another way to prevent and treat cavities.  

Can her tooth be remineralized?

The pain of a toothache can be unbearable.
The pain of a toothache can be unbearable.

Cavities: Demineralization and Remineralization

Although many people don't know this and your dentist probably has not told you, teeth go through a cycle of demineralization and remineralization. Enamel is composed of minerals. The most common mineral is calcium phospate or hydroxyapatite. Acids from the metabolization of oral bacteria and food attack the enamel on the teeth, and the minerals dissolve. Furthermore, when calcium is needed in other parts of the body, calcium can leech out of the teeth. This results in the softening of the enamel, and a cavity eventually forms. Fortunately, under the right circumstances, there is a reverse process.

Remineralization: Healing a Cavity

The reverse process is called remineralization. Remineralization occurs when calcium from the saliva and other sources replace a tooth's lost calcium. When the calcium is replaced, the enamel can repair itself. In order for this process to take place, the surface of the tooth needs to be very clean, there needs to be a sufficient flow of saliva, and there needs to be an adequate amount of calcium.

Research on Remineralization

A researcher and professor at the University of California at San Francisco is working on remineralizing extracted teeth by filling them with a solution containing calcium and phospate. So far, she claims she is 60% successful in achieving remineralization. However, she states, only the enamel is able to be remineralized. The dentin, the layer underneath the enamel, is not able to remineralze. Therefore, early prevention is important.

Dr. Ellie's Clean White Teeth System

Even though the research on remineralization isn't complete yet, some dentists are being proactive. Dr. Ellie Phillips, a dentist in Rochester, New York, has a system called The Clean White Teeth System. Through using various oral rinses and Crest Regular toothpaste, she believes tooth decay can be prevented and repaired. The system follows these steps:

  • Prerinse with Closys
  • Brush teeth with Crest Regular toothpaste
  • Rinse with Listerine
  • Rinse and hold Act fluoride rinse.

If you're interested in learning more about her system, she has a blog at www.askdrellie.blogspot.com.

Use Xylitol Products and Reduce Tooth Decay

Xylitol and Tooth Decay

In addition to using the Clean White Teeth System, Dr. Ellie and other dentists promote the use of xylitol. Xylitol is a natural compound that is found in many fruits and vegetables although it is usually derived from birch/beech trees and corncobs. Used as a sugar substitute, it is classified as a sugar alcohol or a polyol. However, unlike other sugar substitutes, xylitol does not have an after taste.

Numerous studies have shown that xylitol reduces tooth decay. In one study, children that chewed gum with xylitol has 70% fewer cavities. For reasons not fully understood, xlyitol inhibits the survival of oral bacteria. Accordingly, it helps prevent tooth decay because when oral bacteria metabolize sugars and other food residue on teeth, they produce an acid. Consequently, the acid destroys enamel and a cavity forms.

In addition to inhibiting acid producing bacteria, chewing gum can also stimulate the flow of saliva. Having a sufficient flow of saliva is also important in preventing tooth decay. Thus, by using xylitol mints or gum periodically throughout the day and after meals or sugary drinks, you can drastically improve your oral health. However, keep xylitol products away from your pets, they are poisonous to dogs and cats.

Conclusion

Some people mistakenly believe that tooth decay results from a lack of oral health care. Although this may be true in some cases, people can take excellent care of their teeth and still have cavities. Oral bacteria, the types of food we eat, dry mouth, and other factors can impact our oral health. By using the Clean White Teeith System combined with the use of products containing xylitol, you can increase the chances of tooth remineralization. Unless you have a painful cavity that needs to be treated now, what do you have to lose?

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Comments 39 comments

oderog profile image

oderog 7 years ago from Nairobi

great article


seamist profile image

seamist 7 years ago from Northern Minnesota Author

Thank you for stopping by; I am glad you enjoyed it.


grunkpunk 7 years ago

Thank you so much for you information, it has been very helpful. Is the clean white teeth system good for kids under 6?? Thanks


seamist profile image

seamist 7 years ago from Northern Minnesota Author

Hi Grunkpunk

Yes, it is okay for children under six. For more information on her program, you can go to www.askdrellie.blogspot.com.

Thank you so much for your participation and stopping by!


joe 6 years ago

It is not just easy finding a tender dentist nowadays. A couple of months I have my teeth cleaned, man I could almost cry.


apricotmousse profile image

apricotmousse 6 years ago

Nice hub! Thank you for sharing substantial informations.


seamist profile image

seamist 6 years ago from Northern Minnesota Author

Hi Apricotmousse

Thank you. You are very welcome. I am glad you found it helpful.


derrdian 6 years ago

Good article on the role of re-mineralization and cavities. In order to get the teeth enamel to re-mineralize there are lots of factors going on. Diet is a really important part of this.

The enamel can't actually regrow. What's going on is the tooth enamel is 96% mineral and the strongest substance in the human body. It's great for chewing, but the high mineral content can be leeched out of the enamel through poor diet and acidic environments. Once it is lost the enamel does not re-grow.

Enamel can be strengthened by a process called remineralization - which is basically adding minerals to the enamel matrix through the saliva. Enamel is weakened by de-mineralization - which is the stripping of minerals from the enamel. Your enamel is in a state of constant flux between the two states. When the acids begin to dissolve mineral more quickly than your saliva can replace it you get a cavity.

What you need to do is avoid the foods and processes that de-mineralize the teeth, and increase the foods and processes that re-mineralize the teeth.

Phytic acid blocks the mineral absorption.

However, this is just one of several factors that prevent mineralization.

Anyone wishing to re-mineralize their teeth needs to ensure that their teeth are really clean and can remineralize.

Best to look for natural toothpastes without gylcerin, or use tooth soaps, or baking soda. You also need to encourage saliva production and keep the mouth moist - oil pulling is great at keeping the mouth clean and really working out the salivary glands.

Finally, once you remove the processed foods and add foods that are high in Vitamin K2, Vitamin C and Vitamin D, in your diet you will start to feel your teeth becoming less sensitive as you strengthen the enamel layer.

http://www.smartahealth.com/remineralization.html


Dental Jobs 6 years ago

Great hub and thanks for sharing this info with us cheers


seamist profile image

seamist 6 years ago from Northern Minnesota Author

Hi Dental Jobs

Thank you. I am glad you enjoyed it!


DentistWestPalm profile image

DentistWestPalm 6 years ago from West Palm Beach

Thanks for the insider information on dental cavities and such, it's great to get info that dentist don't want to give you. They tell you everything but the ost important things, because they want you to keep coming back to get more work done. Mo money, Mo money, Mo money

Key up the great work Seamist


Mary 6 years ago

I healed my tooth(preventing a root canal).I created an almost constant alkaline state using various methods.I also take cod liver oil daily which eventually made my tooth structure stable again and removed the pain.I also use a novamin toothpaste(internet only) that rebuilds tooth enamel and fills in cavities.NO dentist has taught me how to take care of my teeth,I taught myself.


seamist profile image

seamist 6 years ago from Northern Minnesota Author

That's great Mary! I'll have to check out that novamin toothpaste. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


Bill 6 years ago

Skeletal bone loss and tooth demineralization can be a product of hyperparathyroidism. This is a condition where an errant parathyroid gland is running amuck. We all have 4 pea sized parathyroid glands that usually sit on top of the thyroid gland ... one in each corner. For some reason one or more glands will develop a tumor(s) that will cause an over production of parathyroid hormone. This will raise hell with our body chemistry. Persons who are experiencing skeletal bone and/or jaw bone loss, should see an endocrinologist and have their parathyroid hormone production level checked. The same is true for the loss of enamel on teeth.

Hyperparathyroidism could very well be a familial syndrome... that is it can be an inherited condition. The tumors are almost always benign. Most doctors, dentist, and periodonist will not detect this condition.


Bill 6 years ago

will cause an over production of parathyroid hormone and the condition of hypercalcimia.

( This is an addition to my recent posting)


Mildred 6 years ago

I recently told my dentist about remineralization. He wouldn't hear a word of it. He kept insisting that the only way to heal my daughter's cavity (she is currently 6 years old) is to use a drill. It obviously isn't bad, since she has yet to complain of any pain or difference from her other teeth, plus it is a baby tooth. Unfortunately, the tooth is a back molar, and the roots are in deep, so it could be a couple of years before it falls out. Would you recommend listening to the dentist and getting it drilled, or waiting and experimenting with remineralization until it falls out on it's own?


seamist profile image

seamist 6 years ago from Northern Minnesota Author

Hi Mildred

This is a difficult question to answer. If it were me, I think I would try to find a different dentist who is more knowledgeable about things like remineralization, and go with his or her advice. Why go to a dentist whose first suggestion is to drill or extract teeth if they can be treated alternatively? However, if she ever shows any signs of pain, I would not hesitate to get the cavity filled. Nowadays, it can be a toucy situation. I can't remember what state it was in, but one mother is actually having charges pressed against her because she failed to have her child's cavities treated. Regardless of what you decide to do, I would definitely start her on a remineralization program so she is less likely to develop more cavities. Good luck!


Dentists Gainesville 6 years ago

@ Mildred

I wouldn't take my kid to a dentist whose 1st option is to take out a teeth. I believe that a good dentist spends at least 30% of his time learning about the new things in his domain. Few years of learning in collage aren't enough for a lifetime. Cheers.


Michigan cosmetic dentist 5 years ago

Dental cavities are the biggest reason for dental decay. Diagnosis at an early stage stops the cavities and in turn the dental decay.


Calum Warden 5 years ago

nice to know we're not all slowly heading toward a dental apocolypse where eating what we like will irreversibly damage our teeth

from a certain point of view eating nice foods with a little more frequency is okay if we eat milk and cheese just as frequently


sell my dental practice 5 years ago

I work in the dental industry and see this all the time, it is slowly getting better but the foods we eat are quickly getting a lot worse


linn 5 years ago

About a year ago i saw a dentist who said i needed treatment for a cavity. I have a hard time keeping up with brushing my teeth because i just forget to a lot i dont mean to. However it doesn't really hurt it just feels a bit sensitive and normally i will scratch off the plaque on my teeth with my nail when my teeth feel icky. Is it possible that i could try and undo this and get rid of that cavoty for sure?


Gorgeously profile image

Gorgeously 5 years ago from United States

Great hub. thank you for this information


AngelaKaelin profile image

AngelaKaelin 5 years ago from New York

Very interesting! Good information.


ronie 5 years ago

all these comments are part of search engine optimization its not working work me i take all precautions no sugar from last 6 month cavity getting bigger day by day


seamist profile image

seamist 5 years ago from Northern Minnesota Author

Hi Linn

As long is your tooth isn't too badly decayed, yes, it is possible to remineralize if you follow Dr. Elle's program...at least you can keep it from getting worse.


seamist profile image

seamist 5 years ago from Northern Minnesota Author

Hi Gorgeously and Angela

Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


seamist profile image

seamist 5 years ago from Northern Minnesota Author

Hi Ronie

No, the comments are genuine; they have nothing to do with search engine optimization. I am sorry you're cavity isn't getting any better. It could be aggravated by diet, dry mouth, or something else. If it's not getting any better, I would definitely suggest a trip to the dentist. Thanks for commenting and stopping by!


ronie 5 years ago

i don`t know. i now eat boiled vegetable only .......best natural herbal toothpaste in world 5 times a days. although teeth which were never infected are getting better both enamel,dentin,gums. but infected teeth is only getting bad day .tomorrow is my root canal treatment day .i have three cavities two in first molar and one in right last upper molar and one molar extracted due to cavity that also was first molarso total four bad teeths. i drink raw milk only .no other acdic food i take..................form last one year this is going


Ken Barton profile image

Ken Barton 5 years ago

For me the lack of knowledge has led to teeth that have been ravaged by sugar and poor dental care. I wish I could turn back time forty years and start things over, first giving up sugar products altogether, and second getting better dental care. Great Hub and information, I hope many take the advice offered within.


seamist profile image

seamist 5 years ago from Northern Minnesota Author

Hi Everyone

Sorry for being remiss in repsonding; I haven't been around lately, but thank you for all the input!


Alex 5 years ago

Can someone tell me when can a tooth be remineralized. Once you have a cavity its too late right?


Jill 4 years ago

My son is 3 and has a calcium spot on his tooth that the dental hygienist said there was nothing that could be done about it and it would eventually turn into a cavity. Really...I have been there, done that, and have partial dentures myself nd wouldn't wish it on anyone- especially my little baby boy...so this has been really helpful and made me hopeful.


em_saenz profile image

em_saenz 4 years ago from Europe

I use xylitol regularly and love it. Dentists I do not love. The parathyroid connection is very interesting. I shall do some research on that.


Bob Green Innes profile image

Bob Green Innes 4 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Nice to see a hub that inspires natural healing. It seems that 'natural' fruit juices are causing dental erosion that is different in mechanism than decay. Too much of a good thing - all those acids eat away at the enamel. Try eating the actual fruit instead. And less vinegary dressings? Rinsing with water and eating cheese are said to neutralize the acid. I'm wondering if too-aggressive brushing (ie. mechanical brushes) might exacerbate the problem. They recommend 2 minutes, but that seems a bit much, especially for the high speed types.


sarah 4 years ago

My top and bottom 2 teeth in the way back are senstive to cold stuff and liquids.. i have braces and i know its a lot easier to get a cavity with them. Do i have a cavity ?


joeshmoe 4 years ago

this article really changed my options from getting more of my teeth replaced or filled with fakeness to taking the right steps for remineralization. i have a question, my mother had a chunk of enamel break off the corner of the crown of a tooth (a molar i think, it was a 'fat' tooth) and she loathes going to the dentist, is it possible for her to remineralize it back? i know it will take much time but she and i like to do things more naturally


Simon Brown 3 years ago

Just back from changing dentists :) My last one was recommending thousands of euros of cavity filling of cavities that are internal within the teeth... The new one gave me a checkup and said "yeah there's a couple of bits of decay that I could fill... the two root canals that you have need tidying up... but for the cavities why don't you try what I do."

As well as the usual flossing and brushing and mouthwash, after brushing at night he doesn't rinse. Simple as that. Leaving the toothpaste in contact with teeth overnight leads to remineralization. It apparently also leads to lower dental costs, a practice that he built from nothing to 10 hours / day 6 days a week in 2 years and more referrals than he can handle. I'll see how I go and keep you posted - if it works it's worth sharing (or hiding if you're an unscrupulous dentist)


Bob Green Innes profile image

Bob Green Innes 3 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

@ Simon Brown. Careful with leaving that paste in your mouth. Find out what's in the paste. Most toothpastes, and especially the novamin (mentioned above) are concentrated fluoride based chumicals. Maybe ok for the teeth but what about every other organ?

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