How to stop developing cavities and reverse tooth decay
Can tooth decay be reversed and can teeth actually heal? To understand the possibilities, it is important to understand what causes tooth decay.
Bacteria damages enamel
The mouth is full of millions of bacteria, many different types. Some are beneficial and help us breakdown and digest food, and some can cause problems. Tooth decay is a process that causes destruction of teeth and happens when certain bacteria produce acids that eat away at tooth structure. These bacteria thrive on carbohydrates found in our diet. The first place bacteria can damage teeth is the hard, outermost layer of a tooth; the enamel. Once the enamel is damaged, bacteria can enter the dentin, the second, softer layer, and the decay can spread rapidly causing significant damage and pain to the tooth.
Research has shown that high amounts of phytic acid in the diet can significantly reduce the absorption of minerals by the body. Phytic acid is found in things like grains, nuts, and legumes. Reducing the amount of grains you consume keeps your diet more balanced and will help the body absorb minerals, making them more available to the teeth to aid with re-mineralization. Vitamin D also aids in nutrient and mineral absorption and can be found in foods such as fish, egg yolks, dairy products, and soy products. Products that are high in fluoride are also effective in tooth re-mineralization. MI paste is another great product derived from milk and high in calcium phosphate. MI paste has been shown to form a reservoir of enamel-building materials even after it is rinsed out.
Stop the bacteria penetration to stop cavities
If we are able to stop the bacteria from penetrating through the enamel layer, developing cavities actually can be stopped. There is a certain point where the initial decalcification, called incipient decay, can be reversed. Saliva is full of minerals, including calcium, which helps replace those lost in the tooth’s outermost layer. The use of a toothpaste or rinse containing fluoride can further enhance this process. Ultimately, the presence of adequate saliva containing minerals is essential to promote healing.
Eating cheese also helps protect teeth in multiple ways. Consumption of cheese stimulates rapid production of saliva that cleanses teeth and helps maintain a healthy pH level. Saliva is the body’s way of neutralizing acids and washing away debris. Cheese also leaves a protective coating on teeth further protecting them from acids. Calcium, phosphates and vitamin D are present in dairy products and adequate quantities of these nutrients are essential if tooth decay is going to be prevented.
Written by Dr. Joseph Banker: Cosmetic Dentist at Creative Dental Care