Have you heard of remineralization?
It’s a big word that describes a small problem–reversing cavities.
If you’re among the 92% of American adults who have cavities, you might be wondering how to prevent getting more.
A good oral routine of brushing and flossing, as well as regular cleanings from your dentist, are a great place to start. Still, it’s not enough to stop the process of tooth decay.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about natural ways to heal cavities. There are even remineralizing toothpastes you can buy or make at home.
Is this just the latest health craze, or is there something behind it?
In this post, we’ll discuss remineralization and how it can help to heal cavities.
What is Remineralization?
To begin with, what exactly is remineralization?
Remineralization is our body’s natural process of healing a cavity. In order to remineralize a tooth, your body needs–you guessed it–enough minerals to do the job.
Unfortunately, our modern diet doesn’t offer enough (or the right kinds of) minerals. But we’ll get to that later.
When a tooth is remineralized, this doesn’t mean that the missing part actually “grows back.”
Think about it this way: If you cut off your fingertip, will the tip regrow? No. But, over time, the skin will grow in, closing over the wound and preventing infections. Eventually, the finger will function normally again.
It’s the same idea with your teeth. A cavity won’t actually “fill in,” but remineralizing will protect the tooth and prevent further decay. This allows the tooth to continue functioning as normal.
What Causes Tooth Decay and Demineralization?
If you guessed poor dental hygiene, you’re on the right track.
Good brushing and flossing habits definitely help in the fight against tooth decay. However, neither of these habits actually help in the remineralization process.
It’s easy to think of our teeth as hard, solid structures. In reality, though, they’re more like a sponge. All types of matter–including minerals–can move in and out of the tiny holes in our teeth.
As long as your teeth are gaining minerals faster than losing them, they’ll stay healthy and ward off decay.
How can you ensure this happens? The secret lies in your diet.
Our modern diet includes a lot of processed and high-glycemic (sugary) foods. Both of these increase demineralization while, at the same time, damage your teeth’s ability to remineralize.
So what’s the solution? Here are six steps you can take to help your teeth remineralize.
Limit Sugar Intake
Your dentists have been telling you this since you were a kid, and they’re right. When starchy or sugary foods are left on your teeth, it becomes a breeding ground for the bacteria that causes cavities.
To win the fight, reduce your intake of sugary foods and drinks. This includes soda, milk, dried fruit, candies, and baked goods.
Reduce Phytic Acid
Phytic what? Phytic acid is found in phytates, which you know as grains. These include wheat, barley, rice, beans, lentils, and soy.
The problem with phytic acid is that it causes mineral deficiencies–the opposite of what you hope to achieve. While some healthy grains are part of a well-balanced diet, try to limit or eliminate grains whenever possible.
Increase Vitamin and Mineral Consumption
Since we’re talking about diet, make sure you consume enough vitamins and minerals. This will give your teeth the nutrients they need to remineralize and fight decay.
Make sure to take in an adequate amount of:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
A diet high in vitamins and minerals will not only help your teeth, but your overall health as well.
Eat More Teeth-Friendly Foods
We’ve talked a lot about what you shouldn’t eat. What are some foods that you should eat to help the remineralization process?
Add more of these teeth-friendly foods to your diet:
- Crunchy (raw) fruit and vegetables
- Meat, fish, and poultry
- Leafy greens
- White or green tea
Whenever possible, try to eat grass-fed or wild-caught meats and organic produce. Your body will thank you for it!
Address Acid Reflux and Dry Mouth
Did you know that acid reflux can be more damaging to your teeth than soda? If you frequently suffer from heartburn or reflux, talk to your doctor about ways to get the acid overload under control.
The same goes for dry mouth. Saliva is crucial to preventing bacterial growth and distributing minerals throughout your mouth. If you suffer from chronic dry mouth, find ways to get the saliva flowing again.
Try a Mineralizing Toothpaste
There are several remineralizing products on the market, including toothpaste and charcoal powders.
If you prefer to make your own, here’s a simple DIY recipe:
- 5 parts calcium powder
- 2 parts baking soda
- 3-5 parts coconut oil
- 3 parts Xylitol powder (to reduce bitterness)
- A few drops of your favorite essential oil (mint, cinnamon, or orange)
Combine the ingredients in a bowl and use like you would a normal toothpaste.
Final Thoughts on Remineralization
So, what’s the takeaway? Is remineralization really possible?
Yes.By altering your diet and continuing with a good oral routine, it is possible to heal and prevent cavities–the natural way!