This is the first article in a series to explore the subject of how to stop tooth decay and reverse cavities in your mouth and the mouths of your loved ones.
Similar to other subjects we’ve written on, like our series on root canals and how to whiten your teeth without destroying your enamel, this subject is going to take several articles to sufficiently address such a critically important global epidemic.
While we have written about many of these components in past articles, we’re going to take a fresh look at the pieces to this puzzling topic and determine more closely how we can position our lives so that tooth remineralization becomes the norm.
With this first pass on the subject of how to stop tooth decay, let’s take a 30,000-foot view of the pieces and provide you with a map of the terrain we will cover in the coming articles.
The analogy of a tug-o-war game
On the surface of all of our teeth, there is a microscopic tug-o-war game going on every moment of every day. On one side are the components that contribute to liberating minerals from our teeth and causing cavities. This is the demineralization team.
On the other side are the components that rebuild and help replace lost minerals to our teeth. This, of course, is the remineralization team.
While this may seem overly simplistic, the tug-o-war is a fairly decent analogy of what’s really going on every day in our mouths.
Various factors either contribute to minerals being liberated from the mineral-rich structure of our teeth (thus, causing decay) or they contribute to minerals being re-integrated with the crystal matrix structure of our teeth (on a microscopic level).
Going beyond traditional dental models
The generally recognized model for tooth decay in dentistry is perhaps best explained in the Keyes’ triad. In the Keyes’ triad, the three factors/variables are: host and teeth, microflora, and substrate (diet).
This is the classic model that has formed our cultural understanding that the combination of bad bugs (microflora) in the mouth (host and teeth) and sugar (substrate) cause tooth decay.
What’s important to realize here is the model is just that, an attempt to explain and make sense of a multi-factorial complex. While the Keyes’ triad does provide us with a platform to begin this discussion, being of a holistic bent, we see many other variables that play critical roles in our ability to live a cavity-free life.
The primary shortcoming of the Keyes’ triad is that the model’s focus is too narrow – it’s limited strictly to what’s going on just ‘in the mouth’.
As you probably already know, we like to take a ‘two-pronged’ approach to navigating this path to optimal oral health. ‘What’s going on in the mouth’ is one important factor, but at least equally important is ‘what’s going on in the whole body’.
We will explore both aspects to hopefully provide a more effective model that takes into consideration both ‘local/in the mouth’ and ‘global/whole body’ solutions.
Begin with the end in mind…
Here’s how we have come to understand this fascinating interplay and many of the players involved.
The chemistry component: There is an exchange of chemistry going on over the surface of our teeth as well as under the surface. This tug-o-war game is very rooted in chemistry. Namely, minerals, primarily calcium and phosphorus, are either being liberated from our teeth (causing decay) or are being deposited into and onto our teeth.
How pH plays into the discussion: pH provides us the ability to measure and quantify the environment to determine which side is winning. That’s why in past articles we have encouraged strategies how to track one’s saliva pH.
The biological factor: However, the big players that control much of this chemistry exchange are biological organisms. And, rather than continuing the myth that ‘all plaque is bad’, let’s dispel this myth once and for all and finally realize that some plaques actually may help our teeth stay healthy, and let’s learn to balance our oral flora by becoming a ‘good conductor of the symphony in our mouths’.
The ‘secret sauce’ for a cavity-free mouth: This series of blog entries will also take a deep dive into the hugely important role saliva plays in remineralizing our teeth. As you’ll see, saliva literally is the game changer. So, knowing how to maximize your saliva will end up being at least one of our ‘take away gems’ by the end of this series.
How to make your teeth impervious to decay: In this broader discussion, we also need to revisit one of our favorite subjects, the fact that our teeth are alive and have a flow of fluid through them that either makes our teeth nearly impervious to tooth decay or massively speeds up the decay process. You can take a first pass at this info in our article titled, ‘What causes tooth decay (and how to stop it)’.
How diet giveth and taketh away: Any (holistic) discussion of how to live a cavity-free life must include a close look at the role that diet plays and how diet is a ‘double-edged sword’ when it comes to causing or preventing decay.
The fluoride factor: And, mostly just to get it out of the way, we will also explore the fluoride factor and take a look at the risks and benefits of regular fluoride use, as well as whether fluoride has a place in a holistic approach to a life free from decay.
Product ingredients to help the tug-o-war: We will also explore what ingredients should be in oral hygiene products to help you remineralize your teeth, and we’ll share with you how to make a remineralizing tooth powder that works.
In the end, you can expect to have a very clear, easy-to-apply game plan that synergizes all these factors to help you and your family on your path to a cavity-free home.
In the next article in this series, we will explore what our teeth are made of and how to easily stop two major causes of demineralization.
Please share this article with your loved ones who may benefit from hearing that there are steps we can take every day to help us live cavity-free lives.
Also, please comment below if you’d like to add any points to this discussion. If you’d like us to include any other aspects of this broad subject, please share your question below and we’ll see how we can weave your question into the discussion.
To gain a complete understanding how to stop tooth decay and reverse cavities, feel free to download our FREE resource guide, “How to Remineralize Your Teeth”.
Helpful, Related Resources:
OraWellness articles on root canals [article series]
OraWellness articles on safe teeth whitening [free e-book]
Tracking your saliva pH – How to know you are heading in the right direction [article and free download]
Can some plaques actually help our teeth stay healthy? [article]
How to balance your oral flora and be a ‘good conductor’ for the symphony in your mouth [article]
Why teeth decay? (and how to stop it) [article]