Tons of people are claiming that teeth re-mineralization can happen and even cavities can be eliminated if one is to subject himself or herself to a certain diet and some lifestyle changes. By reducing the intake of grains and other foods rich in phyctic acid content, they say that it can be done. But is there truth to these claims?
Research have shown that indeed, re-mineralization of teeth is possible, even the reversal of small-sized cavities, and the good news is, you don’t have to skip on grains, beans or nuts in order for you to do so! If that’s the case, then why do people assume that eating grains have something to do with cavity formation?
The idea may have stemmed long ago, back in the 1920s or ‘30s, when modern dentistry was still non-existent. A study done at that time played the hypothesis that cavities were formed due to deficiencies in minerals and that grains were somehow responsible for those deficiencies; perhaps by hampering the body’s absorption of those minerals. But with today’s modern knowledge, we all know that this is not really the case—at least, not in countries that have been already industrialized.
That study was done in Britain, when fluoride treatments are still unknown and kids’ teeth are basically rotting in their little heads. To put the grains theory to the test, one dentist placed a group of school-kids into a no-grain diet, and voila! That group got less cavities and the confidence in that theory grew.
But in the span of more than 80 years, people have developed a much more scientifically-backed understanding of how teeth and cavities form. The dental profession have since progressed and better hypotheses are created and tested, which is why it will be hard to find a lot of research material supporting that cereal grains causes cavities that was published after 1950.
So how are teeth mineralized?
A lot of people think of demineralization this way: you have a certain amount of enamel in the tooth, then as time go by, it erodes, and when cavities develop, you have to have to holes filled. But it isn’t always how it happens.
Fact is, tooth de-mineralization/re-mineralization happens several times a day. It’s a natural process and don’t think of it as something as dramatic as it sounds. It just means that calcium and phosphate ions move in and out of your tooth matrix in response to the shifts in your oral environment.
When you eat sugary foods, this tends to push for de-mineralization by lowering your mouth’s pH. But once you’re done eating, the re-mineralization process starts. Your saliva helps take care of the balancing when it comes to your mouth’s pH. When it gets acidic, your saliva bathes your teeth with phosphate and calcium ions to re-harden the enamel.
If the process all goes well, you’ll end up with a perfect set of teeth. However, if the rate of de-mineralization got way too faster than the re-mineralization that happens after, then you’ll end up with cavities. So the key is to avoid things that may increase the rates of destruction and do more of what you can to help the re-mineralization process.
Tips to preserve your tooth enamel
- Avoid too much sugar. Bacteria feeds on sugar and its by-products are acidic which can lead to tooth decay.
- Protect your teeth from acids. Acidic beverages like alcohol, soft drinks, juices, tea and coffee can help damage your enamel. Use of drinking straws to minimize your teeth’s contact to the liquid is a good thing to do. Rinsing your mouth with water after drinking them is also a great idea.
- Rinse your mouth or brush your teeth after eating.
- Chew a sugarless gum after eating.
- Choose a fluoride toothpaste.
- Maintain a balanced diet.
The bottomline is, it is entirely possible for you to re-mineralize your teeth! The tips suggested above are just there to help speed up the process. It’s even possible to heal cavities without having them filled, although, NOT all the time. Bear in mind that minor cavities are much easier to heal than big ones, and an even better option is to prevent them from happening altogether!