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What Is Tooth Remineralization All About?

If you’re worried about getting a cavity (or you already have one), then you may have found yourself heading down an internet rabbit hole in pursuit of information about preventing or even reversing cavities. During that search, you’re liable to have come across the concept of tooth remineralization.

While the topic of tooth remineralization has started to attract more press coverage, most people don’t have a solid understanding of what it’s really about. So let’s set the record straight.

Defining Tooth Demineralization

Before we take a look at understanding tooth remineralization, we need to understand how teeth become demineralized in the first place.

When you break down the word “demineralization,” it becomes easy to see what it’s all about. The term refers to a process by which teeth become de-mineralized—in other words, they lose essential minerals such as calcium and phosphate. This loss typically occurs due to a proliferation of acidic substances in the mouth, which eat away at tooth enamel and the minerals contained in teeth.

Tooth demineralization can happen for a number of reasons, from improper oral hygiene to an unhealthy diet or lifestyle. It’s also just a natural consequence of having bacteria in the mouth, which is unavoidable. When we eat, those bacteria produce acidic substances that promote demineralization.

No matter the cause, the consequences are the same: When important minerals are lost from the teeth and not replaced, it harms your teeth’s enamel. This, in turn, can result in tooth discoloration and/or cavities.

While this is a very simplistic explanation for the process of demineralization, it should provide enough context to understand what tooth remineralization is all about.

Defining Tooth Remineralization

As you can probably now guess, tooth remineralization helps combat the demineralization described above by supplying essential minerals and repairing tooth enamel. This helps ensure damage to the enamel doesn’t continually get worse, which (as noted above) can lead to severe decay or other oral health issues.

Remineralization happens naturally in our mouths every day. That’s thanks mainly to our saliva, which serves our oral health in a number of ways: It enables the presence of tooth-strengthening minerals such as calcium and phosphate, it helps wash the teeth clean, and it helps neutralize acids in the mouth. That last part is especially key, because (as noted above) unchecked acids are one of the biggest contributors to tooth demineralization and cavity development.

When teeth are able to remineralize faster than they demineralize, they remain protected from decay. In contrast, when demineralization happens faster than remineralization, a person’s mouth is more prone to oral health issues.

Natural Strategies for Tooth Remineralization

So if remineralization is the good guy and demineralization is the bad guy, how can we encourage the good and discourage the bad? It mainly comes down to supporting our mouth (and especially our saliva) so it can do its thing. Here are a few strategies:

By taking steps to encourage the remineralization of your teeth, you’ll help protect yourself from tooth decay, sensitivity, and damage and give yourself a greater chance of enjoying good dental health for years to come.

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