Our tooth enamel consists of minerals such as calcium and phosphate. These minerals protect our teeth from decay. But we lose these minerals as we age and the lost minerals make our teeth susceptible to decay.
A high sugar diet or eating excessive acidic food causes loss of tooth enamel. This loss of tooth enamel is known as demineralization.
Let us understand how simple changes like using fluoride-based toothpaste, intake of low sugar diet, drinking lots of water, etc. can prevent demineralization of enamel.
Remineralization of enamel
Enamel is not an organic tissue like skin or bone which means we cannot regrow or restore enamel that we lose due to demineralization.
But an inorganic compound, fluoride, is helpful in restoring the mineral constituents of teeth enamel. Fluoride is present in drinking water in small quantities, toothpaste, foaming gels and mouth rinse.
Acids in the mouth are responsible for demineralization of enamel. So, when you brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste, the fluoride collects the minerals from saliva and helps teeth enamel absorb the minerals.
We need a small quantity of fluoride for remineralization of our teeth enamel, so do not use extra fluoride products such as foaming gels without consulting your dentist. Excess fluoride intake can cause dental fluorosis.
Role of saliva in remineralization of teeth enamel
Saliva is the most important biological factor which neutralizes the effect of acids on teeth enamel. It acts as a constant source of calcium and phosphate and continually delivers fluoride to the enamel.
Dry mouth can accelerate the rate of demineralization of enamel. That is why you need to get this condition treated if the saliva production is less.
Home remedies to help remineralize teeth enamel
Brush your teeth regularly
Brushing helps in removal of bacteria. Streptococcus mutans is the primary cause of decay in the oral cavity. Food and drinks transmit bacteria to the oral cavity.
Brushing helps to keep a check on bacterial overgrowth. Ideally, you should use a medium bristled toothbrush and brush twice daily along with flossing once daily.
Use fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth. Regular toothpaste doesn’t help in remineralization. Fluoride toothpaste also strengthens your teeth and thus make them less susceptible to future mineral loss. (1)
Stop eating sugar
If you have a sweet tooth, you may want to cut down on sugar intake. Sugar is acidic and interacts with harmful bacteria in the mouth causing loss of tooth enamel leading to decay and cavity formation.
Not only chocolates or cakes but ketchup and other daily food items also contain sugar. Higher frequency in sugar consumption also causes demineralization.
So, if you eat sugar-containing food or beverages in small amounts regularly, then you are causing more harm than someone who eats sugar-laden dessert once in a while. (2)
Chew sugarless gum
Chewing gum helps increase the rate of flow of saliva which in turn helps in remineralization of teeth enamel. Also, sugar-free gum helps clean food particles from teeth.
When food particles stay stuck on the tooth surface, bacteria acts on them which lead to plaque formation and decay in the long run. (3)
Eat citrus fruits in moderation
Excess of anything is harmful. Though eating fruits is healthy but eating citrus fruits in excess can lead to loss of tooth enamel due to high acid content.
Fruit acids cause calcium chelation which means the acid binds to the tooth calcium and strips it off the enamel surface. Juices are worse than fruits due to added sugars.
Eat citrus fruits in moderation. The nutritional value of juice is not the same as that in the fruits due to the addition of water and sugar, so it is advisable if you limit your intake of juice.
Eat calcium-rich food
Calcium is produced in the teeth naturally, but with age and due to the activity of bacteria and acids, this mineral is stripped off from the tooth surface.
Eating calcium-rich food is one way in which you can prevent loss of calcium from teeth. In case you have calcium deficiency (aging females in general experience calcium deficiency), talk to your doctor about calcium supplements.
Water doesn’t contain sugar and isn’t acidic and cleanses you of toxins (not just the acid and bacteria in the mouth but toxins from the whole body ).
After drinking tea coffee juice or any sugary item drink water or swish your mouth with water so that the acid doesn’t get the time to rip off minerals from the tooth enamel.
Stay away from sodas since they are acidic and also contain sugar both of which do no good.
Oral probiotic supplements
Oral supplements of probiotic bacteria prevent decay of teeth and thus can be used to prevent the demineralization of teeth enamel.
Probiotic bacteria prevent plaque formation and inhibit expression of virulent genes of Streptococcus mutans. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are some of the known strains of probiotic bacteria which cause oral health benefit.
Ice-cream, yogurt, milk, lozenges, etc. can act as vehicles to help administer probiotics.
Over to you
You cannot put a full stop to mineral loss neither can you stop eating. So, the middle ground to use fluoride-based toothpaste to brush your teeth, maintain good oral hygiene and keep a check on what you eat or drink.
Apart from the above steps, you have to visit a dentist every six months to keep your teeth healthy.