Remineralization is Worth a Try
Congratulations to Dr. Fred Guerra and KOAA 5 News for getting the word out about remineralization. It’s one of the things dentists can do to possibly prevent you having a filling.
To understand how remineralization works, you have to understand how cavities form. It’s all a microscopic process. Here’s the really short version:
- Plaque bacterial colonies grow constantly on teeth, even if you’re an excellent brusher and flosser.
- Anything we eat or drink that contains simple carbs also feeds the plaque bacteria.
- Bacteria metabolize the simple carbs and give off a biproduct of acid.
- Acid dissolves the minerals from our teeth. This is called DEmineralization.
- Acid production continues for around 30 minutes from a single bite or sip of something containing simple carbs.
- Remineralization naturally occurs between eating simple carbs AFTER the 30-minute-nightmare of acid production is past, but sometimes it’s not enough.
- If we have more DEmineralization then REmineralization, then a cavity occurs.
The remineralization that Dr. Guerra is referring to is when dentists “attempt” to stop a full-blown cavity forming. When areas of teeth are demineralized, they get softened before they fully break down (which is a cavity). It is at this softened stage that dentists can apply prescription-strength fluoride or other minerals to re-harden this area and possibly prevent breakdown.
Remineralization doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try. It’s pretty inexpensive to try and remineralize a soft spot in a tooth before it becomes a cavity. If your dentist is keeping a close eye on things, the worst that could happen is that you end up getting a small filling. But remember, you’ve got to keep a close watch to see whether the tooth is remineralizing (happy day, throw a party) or breaking down further (happy day still, because you only need a SMALL filling typically).
WARNING: So far nobody has been able to remineralize cavities back to healthy teeth, in spite of what you might read on social media. Once a cavity (cave) forms, the dentist should really intervene. I LOVE natural remedies, but buyer beware. There are so many unsubstantiated claims on the internet that it makes my head spin. Get your dentist involved if you have any questions.
Something that will really help you understand how to prevent cavities, or at least remineralize soft spots, is Chapter 2 of my book Real Mom’s Dental Pocket Guide: Cavities. This guide will help you understand all the major factors and show you how to use them to your family’s advantage.