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?
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.
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?