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TOOTH DEMINERALIZATION AND REMINERALIZATION


Dentists call the process of losing and gaining minerals in tooth enamel demineralization and remineralization. Demineralization occurs every time your mouth is acidic; the longer your mouth remains acidic, the more damage to your teeth. When enough minerals have dissolved, only the fragile skeleton of enamel will remain. Imagine a honeycomb without the honey. In this situation, any pressure or stress on the skeleton will cause it to break, forming a hole, or cavity. Despite the huge amount of fear, myth, and insecurity in many people’s minds about cavities, there is only one way for a cavity to form. Acids in the mouth dissolve the strength of a tooth to the point at which it breaks.7
Remineralization is the rebuilding process that helps prevent a cavity.8 The process occurs in almost everyone’s mouth naturally but slowly, and the good news is that it can be speeded up by rinsing with fluoride or by regular exposure to xylitol. Remineralization repairs damaged enamel and can work to rebuild the tooth—sometimes completely, provided repairs begin before the enamel skeleton is physically broken. 9

Our Teeth Are Sensitive

Weak or porous enamel can never adequately protect the live cells and nerves inside a tooth. Most people with acid-softened teeth notice their teeth are sensitive and hurt when they drink hot or cold beverages. The more porous your enamel, the more easily the inside of your tooth can be harmed. Damage to the nerve may be permanent and irreversible, resulting in the death of the tooth. When the nerve is damaged, treatment could require either root canal therapy and crowning or extraction and replacement of the tooth with implants or bridges. Keeping the outside of a tooth strong and remineralized is the key, not only to avoiding tooth pain and cavities, but also to extending the lifelong health of the inside of your teeth. Using products to strengthen and remineralize your teeth each day will provide protection to avoid cavities, fillings, repairs, and most of the dental treatments that people around you will experience as they age.
Throughout life, all the products we consume affect our teeth. Sometimes, acidic apple juice, sports drinks, sodas, coffee, and beer harm our teeth. At other times, our teeth may benefit from mineral-rich drinking water, vegetable juices, dairy products, xylitol, and alkaline soups and broths. The end state of your teeth—stained and weak or healthy and strong—is the final condition that results from the continuous swing between damage to your teeth and natural repair. Teeth will be sensitive and break when the damage outweighs the repairs. Teeth will be bright and strong if they are regularly able to rebuild themselves to full strength.
Many people who have cavities and bad teeth are those who, for whatever reason, do not have enough minerals in their saliva to provide the materials needed for this remineralization process. Some people have a dry mouth or insufficient saliva to coat, protect, and rebuild their teeth. Others find their own saliva tests acidic on a regular basis. Imagine having acidic saliva in your mouth all day and all night, weakening your teeth constantly and too acidic to offer protection from external acids from consumed foods or beverages. Such factors can quickly lead people into serious dental situations, with decay and cavities which could never be controlled by traditional flossing or dental cleanings. Dental problems in a dry mouth may actually be made worse with excessive toothbrushing or the frequent use of mouth rinses like Listerine, which itself has an acidity level capable of dissolving tooth enamel if it remains, undiluted, on teeth for a long period of time. (A beneficial way to use Listerine will be explained in detail as part of the complete dental care system described in part VI.)

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