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Remineralization of teeth occurs when minerals are restored to the structure of the teeth, making the pores in them smaller and strengthening them slightly. The process of remineralization does not typically occur naturally. The patient with demineralized teeth must take steps to heal his or her dental problems. Fortunately, several methods exist for aiding remineralization of teeth. None of these techniques will heal a cavity or restore material on a broken tooth. These more serious concerns should always be addressed by a dentist, and patients should also consult a dentist before attempting remineralization.
When teeth demineralize, the enamel is slowly worn away from the tooth. This often happens from the inside out, as sugars and acids slip into the pores in the teeth and grind away at the underside of the enamel. This widens the pores in the teeth, allowing more harmful substances to enter them. This vicious circle usually continues until the teeth are treated somehow. If a cavity forms, dentists usually fill them with artificial substances. In cases where cavities are absent, patients can encourage remineralization of teeth with a few lifestyle changes.
Sugar, acids, and even whole grains can cause teeth to leach minerals. The acids in coffee, tea, fruit, and soda gradually wear at teeth, washing away the enamel. Gummy sugars also stick to teeth and promote the growth of harmful bacteria, which eat at teeth and cause cavities. The same often holds true for whole grains — the starches cling to teeth and encourage demineralization. Before remineralization of teeth can be considered, the patient must address his or her diet.
Cutting out white sugar, soda, and limiting coffee intake often help a patient’s overall health improve, but some of the above named foods are essential to a healthy diet. Dentists don’t generally expect patients to stop consuming fruits, whole grains, or healthy teas. The key to keeping these foods from ruining teeth is to keep them from staying in the mouth. Patients should typically rinse their mouths with water after each meal or snack, brushing the teeth if possible. Daily flossing also keeps these foods from sitting in the gum pockets.
Foods that aid remineralization of teeth include calcium-rich items like butter, milk, lean meats, and vegetables. Sugar-free yogurt, cheeses, and vitamin D supplements are also important for a tooth-healthy diet. Many dentists also recommend foods high in probiotics like sauerkraut, kefir milk, natto, and pickled vegetables. Homemade soup stocks, flavored with animal and fish bones, also usually contain very high amounts of the nutrients needed for remineralization of teeth.
Many dentists also recommend cleaning the teeth with a mixture of baking soda and sea salt, rather than traditional toothpaste. The mixture usually calls for equal parts soda and salt mixed with enough water to create a paste. This recipe is very salty-tasting, but many patients get used to it over time.