This article wraps up our series on how to stop tooth decay and remineralize cavities. This series has taken us through how teeth decay, what creates the ‘perfect storm’ for decay, how to reverse tooth decay with diet, and the safety of fluoride, to name a few.
Behind the scenes here at OraWellness, for several years now, we have been extensively researching how to remineralize teeth, what mechanisms work to stop and even reverse tooth decay, and how and why those mechanisms work.
Here are several of the pieces to this puzzle.
To reverse tooth decay, address the ‘whole body’ factor.
The work of Weston Price, Edward and May Mellanby, Ralph Steinman, and so many other researchers has thankfully come back into public awareness. The truth is, we can stop and even reverse existing tooth decay.
Many of our friends, including Ramiel Nagel (author of Cure Tooth Decay), Katie, the Wellness Mama, (author of WellnessMama.com), and so many others have done an excellent job in helping to bring the work of these pioneers to the forefront of public awareness.
Over the years, we here at OraWellness have also worked to help spread awareness of the whole body aspect of healing tooth decay, by writing articles like, ‘Why teeth decay (and how to stop it)’, ‘What to eat to support greater oral health’, and more recently, ‘How to reverse tooth decay with diet’.
The point here is that reversing cavities and remineralizing teeth definitely involves more than just our mouths.
That said, there is also much we can do directly in the mouth to help our teeth remineralize and to reverse existing decay.
To summarize the findings from our research, to reverse tooth decay by taking action in the mouth, we must:
- Provide the right combination of minerals to our teeth.
- Ensure the minerals we provide are in the right particle size.
- Deliver these minerals to the right spots (the decayed areas that need support).
The right combination of minerals
Ok, since it’s the holiday time as I write this, let’s imagine we want to make a pumpkin pie.
You don’t have any pumpkin, but you have a bunch of grapes. Can you substitute the grapes for the pumpkin to make the pie?
Of course not. You need pumpkin to make pumpkin pie.
The same thing goes for remineralizing our teeth. We have to supply the same minerals our teeth are made of if we expect the minerals to be deposited into the crystal matrix of our teeth.
Our recent article, ‘How Teeth Decay’, details how our teeth are mostly made of calcium and phosphorus in a crystalline compound called hydroxyapatite. (There is a small percentage of magnesium and carbonate that’s incorporated into our tooth structure, too.)
Is the ratio of minerals important?
Let’s go back to our silly pumpkin pie example.
In this case, let’s pretend you have pumpkin, eggs, honey/sugar, flour, etc.— all the ingredients needed to make the pumpkin pie.
The recipe calls for 2 cups of pumpkin, but you only have 1/4 cup for the whole pie. However, you do have 6 eggs that you could use to make up for the missing 1 ¾ cups of pumpkin. You have all the ingredients, but not in the right combination and amounts.
Sounds like another recipe for disaster, right?
It’s the same with remineralization. Not only do we need the right minerals, but we also need those minerals in the right combination so that our teeth can uptake them to support any demineralized areas.
In a previous article, we explain how our teeth are made of a specific combination of calcium and phosphorus. Each hydroxyapatite molecule is 10 parts calcium and 6 parts phosphorus.
Research shows that if we provide our teeth with these minerals in this specific combination, uptake and repair happens much more effectively.
At the right particle size
Back to our pumpkin pie…
So, let’s now imagine we have the right ingredients, and the right amount of each ingredient. To make the pie, we make the pie crust, set the whole pumpkin and the eggs (still in their shells) on the crust, and then bake the pie, right? ?
Of course not!
We have to extract the pumpkin flesh from the pumpkin and mix it with the cracked eggs (sans shells) to form a batter or solution.
Preparing the ingredients in this way allows them to blend together and create something new.
It’s the same with remineralizing teeth—we have to get the ingredients to the right state (particle size) so they can combine into an effective remineralizing solution.
Like our recent articles explain, our teeth have tiny, tiny holes, like the pores on our skin. Even though our teeth feel smooth, they are more like a honeycomb structure with lots and lots of very tiny holes all over their surface.
Therefore, in order for the minerals we apply to our teeth to have any positive benefit, we must make sure that the particle size of the minerals is tiny as well.
Only minerals with a tiny particle size will be able to mix with our saliva and help to rebuild the structure of our teeth. In our recent article, ‘The perfect storm for decay – the interplay between pH, sugar, saliva and plaque’, we describe the important role saliva plays in the process of remineralizing our teeth.
At the right spot
Ok, so we have the right combination of minerals in the right particle size.
There’s one more step to really make this ‘in-the-mouth remineralization support’ process work.
We have to get these minerals to the areas that need the support.
The problem is that tooth decay actually happens under the surface of our teeth (at first). In our article, ‘How Teeth Decay’, we dive more fully into this interesting process.
So, how do we deliver the minerals to the subsurface areas that have decay? After all, the research clearly shows that simply depositing the right minerals on the surface of our teeth isn’t enough to really maximize any remineralization effort.
Instead, we have to get the minerals into the areas of decay that are under the surface of the outer enamel.
The bacterium (or ‘bad bug’) Strep mutans causes decay by traveling into the tiny holes in the surface of our teeth. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get them to act as our courier and deliver minerals to the subsurface demineralized areas?
How to use the ‘supply chain’ of Strep mutans to deliver the remineralizing compounds where they are needed most.
In the Chinese classic book, The Art of War, author Sun Tzu wrote, “If you know yourself and you know your enemy, you will win 100 battles out of 100 battles.”
It’s important for us to understand how Strep mutans causes tooth decay and how it provides for its own nutritional needs. You see, once we understand how Strep mutans feeds itself, we can leverage that information to design a way to get remineralizing compounds down into regions of decay.
Strep mutans establishes itself under the surface of our outermost enamel so it can work at destroying our teeth without being interrupted by our toothbrush or saliva.
However, it maintains a ‘supply chain’ tube up to the enamel surface in order to bring food (in the form of sugars from our diet), into the subsurface decayed region.
Let’s do some microbial ninja work now…
Research shows that Strep mutans bugs mistake xylitol for food, and they transport it under the surface of our teeth to their ‘de-construction zone’. But, unlike normal sugars, Strep mutans isn’t able to use xylitol as food.
So, like a Trojan Horse, we can disguise our remineralizing compounds by mixing them with xylitol. Then, we’ll enlist the help of the Strep mutans to bring the minerals (masked in a tempting, seemingly sugary solution) into the decaying regions, where the minerals are needed most.
We have written about the safety and benefits of using xylitol before, but haven’t shared this stealthy, microbial ninja technique until now.
As a quick side note, when considering the use of xylitol, it’s important to find a source that makes xylitol from birch, not corn. In an effort to avoid genetically modified organisms, it’s best to stay away from anything made from commercial corn.
When we provide the right combination of minerals, in the right particle size, and can utilize a mechanism to deliver these minerals to the right spot where they are needed, we truly can support the remineralization of our teeth.
We can not only prevent new cavities, but also help to restore strength to areas of existing decay.
So how do we find the right combination of minerals in the right size?
When we began our deep dive into the research of remineralizing tooth decay over 3 years ago, we did so with the goal of providing our community an extremely effective solution to help stop decay and prevent cavities. With that in mind, we created our Shine Remineralizing Tooth Whitening Powder, which provides the right combination of minerals in the right particle size to help remineralize teeth.
To get more tips on ‘in the mouth’ and ‘whole body’ steps you can take to help teeth remineralize, feel free to download our FREE resource guide, “How to Remineralize Your Teeth”.
Related, Helpful Resources:
How to Stop Cavities and Reverse Tooth Decay [article]
How Teeth Decay – Part 2 of How to Stop Cavities [article]
The ‘Perfect Storm’ for Decay – the Interplay between pH,Sugar, Saliva and Plaque [article]
How to Reverse Tooth Decay with Diet [article]
Is Fluoride Safe to Use? [article]
What TO Eat to Create Greater Oral Health [article]
Is Xylitol Safe to Brush With? [article]
Please remember this! We love our family pets! Of course we want to help them keep their teeth healthy and clean too. Xylitol can be fatally dangerous to dogs. Please never use a human toothpaste or toothpowder containing xylitol on your dog’s teeth.