November 30, 2015
If your teeth are prone to dental decay or carries, you are likely very familiar with the process of removing and filling damaged dental enamel. You may even receive regular fluoride treatments or dental sealants as part of your twice annual dental appointments. In some cases, the solution is a change in diet or oral hygiene, but some patients are simply genetically predisposed to experience more tooth decay. There is good news. Innovation in modern dental care is making it possible from patients who struggle with decay to rebuild damaged teeth as part of their regular preventive dentistry routine. Thanks to a natural process known as remineralization, we may be able to regrow decayed teeth in the near future.
Your Mouth’s Constantly Shifting pH Balance
If you’ve ever had a cavity, you have experienced the detrimental effects of an oral pH balance that is unbalanced. Every time you eat, your mouth begins an intricate dance designed to keep your pH at a balanced 7 (neutral). Every mouth has thousands of bacteria that assist in digestion. Bacteria are living organisms, and as such, they absorb and digest nutrients from the foods and drinks we consume. The waste produced by bacteria after digesting sugary foods is a highly acidic, sticky biofilm commonly referred to as plaque. Plaque attaches to teeth and demineralization (decay) begins if the acid has a pH below 5.5. Saliva works as the body’s natural neutralizing agent. Healthy saliva has pH between 6.8 and 7.4. When saliva is able to return the mouth’s pH to 7 or higher after eating, tooth decay does not occur. When the mouth’s pH remains below 7 for an extended time period, demineralization begins. Fluoride has been used for nearly a century to protect teeth from demineralization, and prevent cavities. However, recent research shows that there are other effective treatments available to defend against demineralization, or even allow remineralization to occur.
Remineralization isn’t typically possible within the mouth because pH needs to be above 7.5 before remineralization occurs, and even neutralizing saliva only reaches 7.4. In a best case scenario, saliva, oral hygiene, and fluoride toothpastes are able to keep the mouth at a neutral 7, but if pH is raised above 7.5, the results are astonishing. Teeth not only dispel acidic plaque, but enamel actually becomes denser. Current studies show that adding calcium and milk proteins to dental care products significantly increases the pH level in the mouth. Many products are using a combination of high pH minerals known as Recaldent (CCP-ACP) or NovaMin to provide ideal conditions for remineralization. Some of the products currently on the market include:
- MiPaste and MiPaste Plus
- Sensodyne with NovaMin
- Trident Extra Care Gum
- NuPro NuSolutions Toothpaste
The Future of Remineralization
Researchers at King’s College in London are developing a product that will treat tooth decay (cavities, caries) without drills or fillings. Instead, these researchers are harnessing the power of remineralization creating a product that will not only reverse the effect of demineralization, but will actually create an environment in which teeth begin to rebuild themselves. The technique is known as Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralization (EAER), and uses electric currents to catalyze the natural remineralization process. This cavity treatment could be available as early as 2017.
Find out More from Your Family Dentist Carrollton
If you frequently have cavities or dental wear, remineralization can help you restore and retain natural dental structure. Find out more by contacting your family dentist in Carrollton, Dr. Campbell. Our dental team can help you protect and fortify your smile today.
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