Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Reversing Tooth Decay

It’s true. You can reverse tooth decay.

Dentists aren’t in the habit of sharing this information, but it is a scientific fact.

When a cavity first starts forming, you may notice a small white spot on your tooth. This spot is the result of decalcification; calcium is leaching from the tooth. Decalcification is caused by excessive plaque and bacteria building up on the tooth enamel. Other than looking odd, the early stages of decalcification are harmless. Over time, however, the cavity will progress resulting in pain and eventual structural damage. Typically – to prevent tooth loss – cavities are treated with drilling out the decay or with extensive damage, even root canals.

If you catch the tooth early in the decalcification process, the issue is reversible. All you need is proper home care that will create a healthy oral environment, re-mineralize the tooth and eventually reverse the decay process. It won’t happen overnight, but in 2 to 4 months, you will be able to see notable improvement. To completely reverse a decalcified tooth, it can take up to a year, but in order to avoid drilling, it’s well worth the effort.

There are 3 important steps you will need to take to re-mineralizing your teeth...

1. Improve your diet.

Minimize your intake of foods high in sugar, high fructose corn syrup and acid, including orange juice, apple cider and lemonade. Sports drinks and carbonated sodas are particularly problematic as they are high in both sugar and phosphoric acid. Also limit your consumption if acidifying grains like white flour, rice, wheat, wheat germ and cornstarch, and avoid acid producing animal proteins such as red meat, shrimp and oysters. I personally recommend using sea salt, which contains many trace minerals, as well as home made broths containing low acid vegetables and/or chicken. I also recommend adding a few key supplements to your daily routine, including Calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin K2.

2. Minimize dry mouth.

Saliva is extremely important to oral health. It helps maintain a neutral pH, which in turn protects against harmful bacteria and infection. The drier the mouth, the more susceptible your teeth will be to damage. Chronic dry mouth is a common side effect of many prescription and nonprescription medications. Medical conditions including diabetes, cystic fibrosis, stroke, Sjorgren’s syndrome, fibromyalgia and HIV/AIDS may result in dry mouth as a side effect. To minimize dry mouth, I recommend the following:

  • Stay fully hydrated and drink plenty of water
  • Do not use tobacco products as these products can reduce saliva production
  • Breath through your nose and avoid "mouth breathing"
  • Use xylitol mints or chew xylitol gum, as it will stimulate saliva production and inhibit cavity formation
  • Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air
  • Use an over-the-counter saliva substitute or stimulant, especially if there is a medical reason behind your lower-than-average saliva condition

3. Practice correct dental hygiene care.

You have probably heard it before, but proper hygiene at home it vital to your dental health. It takes a certain degree of commitment, but trust me – it is well worth it. Floss regularly. Brush twice every day with a toothpaste containing xylitol which is a key step to re-mineralizing enamel. Remember to get regular dental checkups.

About the Author: Dr. Flora Stay has practiced dentistry for over 25 years. She is also a published author, a professor at the USC School of Dentistry and a leading authority on health and wellness. Dr. Stay founded Cleure, a premiere manufacturer of fluoride free and SLS free toothpaste and dental health products, as well as personal care products for salicylic acid allergy and sensitive skin care products.

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