How to Remineralize Teeth: Avoid Cavities and Whiten Teeth at Home
Hopefully you already have a solid grasp on the steps necessary to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Steps like brushing your teeth at least twice a day with a gentle fluoride toothpaste, flossing regularly, and cutting back on sugary foods and drinks are common knowledge these days. But have you heard of remineralization? If your answer is no, you are not alone.
Many people are unfamiliar with the term, but everyone should know it. In any case, we are glad you’re here, because remineralization is an important aspect of your dental hygiene! Let’s take a look at why.
What is Demineralization?
Tooth enamel is composed of minerals like calcium and phosphate, as well as dentin and bone.
The presence of these minerals is vital, as they help prevent cavities and tooth decay, keeping your teeth strong.
Demineralization is the process of losing these minerals. Some causes of demineralization are the consumption of acidic or sugary foods and the accumulation of bacteria inside your mouth.
As minerals are lost, enamel is weakened and your tooth is affected, possibly all the way down to the bone. Once these bone and enamel structures are compromised, the damage of tooth decay cannot be reversed.
Have no fear--it is possible to stop the demineralization process, replenish these important minerals and strengthen your enamel by making certain changes before major damage occurs.
This process is called remineralization, and as you already know, it’s important! Lucky for us all, it’s also easy you likely already have the tools you need to remineralize your teeth.
Ways to Remineralize Your Teeth
Promote Healthy Saliva Production
Saliva plays an important role in protecting your teeth from demineralization, as it helps wash bacteria and plaque deposits from your teeth. Making sure you are producing enough saliva is important. Combat dry mouth by avoiding salty foods, by chewing gum or sucking on hard candies (preferably sugar free), drinking lots of water, and avoiding mouthwashes containing drying alcohols, as they can exacerbate the issue.
Brush Your Teeth
This is the not-so-secret weapon of dentists. It’s the “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” of dental hygiene. Basically, everything comes back to this step because of how much it does to promote oral health.
Brushing your teeth removes the bacteria that corrodes your enamel and helps prevent cavities and tooth decay. Keeping your toothbrush warm (by using it often, that is) can help slow or stop the demineralization process and keep your enamel strong and safe.
Make sure you brush twice per day for at least two minutes each time!
Floss and Rinse
Floss and mouthwash are the hype men for your toothbrush. They should always be on stage when your toothbrush takes the show, backing it up. And the story is no different when remineralizing. Although the structure of the tooth cannot be rebuilt by using mouthwash or floss, they can greatly aid in the remineralization process.
Floss works by helping get unwanted food particles out of the smaller places toothbrushes cannot reach, and keeping these things off of your teeth is important to remineralize. Likewise, mouthwash, also known as mouth rinse, does just that - it rinses your teeth of sugar and acids, and a good antiseptic wash will also help protect against future food and drink invaders.
Use Fluoride Toothpaste
Have you ever stood in the toothpaste aisle for way longer than you’d planned just trying to decipher which option to buy? Which flavor? Whitening or for sensitive teeth? It can be daunting, for sure!
The ADA recommends using a fluoride toothpaste, because fluoride is vital to protect your teeth from plaque, cavities, and demineralization. Fluoride works to promote remineralization by working with saliva to encourage healthy bacterial activity and restore a balanced PH in the mouth, protecting your teeth from acid attacks and enamel breakdown.
We personally prefer a toothpaste with a safe amount of fluoride that doesn’t allow other unnecessary ingredients into the bunch. Twice toothpastes maintain this balance of all the ingredients your toothpaste needs, without any of the ones it doesn’t. And it tastes delightful, too, with our Invigorating toothpaste’s wintergreen & peppermint, and our Calming toothpaste’s soothing vanilla lavender!
There is a lot to say about fluoride because it is so vital to avoiding dental erosion. You may see fluoride-free products on the shelves, but unless you have a health issue deterring you from using fluoride, this ingredient is a must!
Cut Back on Sweets
Sugary foods are one of the main culprits of plaque build-up, which can lead to the development of cavities and tooth decay. While everyone deserves to enjoy a big piece of that birthday cake or occasional sweet treat, it’s best to consume sugary foods and drinks in moderation, making sure to brush quickly after consumption. This will help prevent mineral loss from the harmful acids.
Some of the worst offenders are:
- Ice cream
- Dried fruits (though naturally sweet, these often still pack a sugary punch with added sugar!)
Chew Sugar-free Gum
Contrary to myth, chewing gum cannot replace brushing your teeth. Now that that’s out of the way, there are benefits to chewing sugarless gum. Specifically, chewing it has been shown to help remove residue from sugary and starchy foods from teeth, which can help promote remineralization. For best results, chew just after eating or drinking sugary foods and drinks.
Get Enough Calcium
Teeth contain natural amounts of calcium, which can decrease over time, from eating certain foods, specifically acidic ones. In order to replenish this important mineral, make sure your diet includes foods rich in calcium, and if necessary introduce a calcium supplement to help support your oral health.
Some foods high in calcium are:
- Milk, cheese and other dairy foods
- Green leafy vegetables like kale, okra, and spinach
- Soya drinks with added calcium
- Bread and anything made with fortified flour
- Fish where you eat the bones like sardines and pilchards
This may seem contrary to the last tip, because dairy products are well-known for their calcium content and calcium is good for remineralization. We aren’t trying to pull one over on you, promise. The deal is, products that are high in lactose are also higher in sugar which increases acidity in your mouth. This is no good for your mineral content.
Eating foods high in simple carbohydrates (think rice, bread, and potatoes) equates to sugar on your teeth, which can wear down enamel. If you are looking to remineralize your teeth and protect them from demineralization, it is best to limit these types of food.
This is especially important after eating foods that are high in starch, acid, or sugar. While not as effective as a full brushing session, swishing or drinking water can help wash away residual foods and drinks, helping protect your teeth from demineralization.
Limit Fruits and Juices
Eating fruit and juicing can provide you with important vitamins and can be very healthy for you. But because of their high acidity, it’s best to limit your intake of fruits, especially if you are concerned with demineralization. It is specifically wise to eat citrus fruits in moderation, as they are some of the highest in acidity. It’s best to steer clear of juices with added sugars as much as possible.
Finally, there is an option to make or purchase a mineral paste for your teeth. These pastes can restore the balance of minerals that should be present in your teeth, replace lost minerals, improve fluoride absorption, and improve precious saliva production.
A few example ingredients you might find in a homemade mineral toothpaste are:
- Cleaned powdered egg shells
- Baking soda
- Xylitol powder to aid with taste
- Coconut oil
Remineralization & Whitening
By now you know that remineralizing your teeth means restoring the amount of minerals needed to protect your precious enamel and keep your teeth strong and healthy. But here’s another added benefit of remineralization. Whitening!
Keeping away from sugary foods, brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, and drinking lots of water can also help keep your teeth sparkling white. This is because remineralization helps to ensure a strong outer enamel layer. Enamel is the smooth white surface outside of the tooth. When demineralization happens, that precious enamel is compromised and the dentin layer underneath may become exposed. Dentin is darker in color and no amount of conventional whitening treatments will change its color. So drink water to wash those stains away, keep enamel eating foods at a minimum, and brush!
There you have it! You are a remineralization guru! If you have been concerned with the loss of essential minerals, you should now have confidence knowing that mineral loss is both normal and easily avoidable.
And you may have picked up on this, but remineralization is really accomplished by simply keeping up the healthy oral care routine you hopefully already have - no pricey treatments, no unnecessary gadgets to buy, just a consistent daily ritual using an enamel strengthening toothpaste and the avoidance of too many acidic and sweet foods.
You can do it and you’ll be so glad you did!