Brushing with fluoride toothpaste, cutting out sugar, and making sure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamins in your diet are just some ways to reduce mineral loss in your tooth enamel.
Minerals such as calcium and phosphate help make up tooth enamel, along with bone and dentin. They also prevent tooth decay and subsequent cavities.
As you age, you lose the minerals in your teeth. This may be caused by eating sugary and acidic foods. It also occurs when bacteria accumulate in your mouth. Once the enamel or bone are gone, there’s no way to get them back without replacing the tooth entirely.
However, it is possible to help replenish these minerals with lifestyle changes and home remedies before tooth decay occurs. This process is known as remineralization. You can also stop demineralization in its tracks.
Talk to your dentist about the following treatment measures to help remineralize your teeth and help stop demineralization. Demineralization and remineralization are interrelated and in constant flux.
1. Brush your teeth
Brushing your teeth is important for removing bacteria. Cavities (also called dental caries) are primarily caused by the accumulation of Streptococcus mutans bacteria in your mouth.
According to a 2016 study Trusted Source, these bacteria are transmitted via food and drink. Brushing your teeth regularly can remove the bacteria that may lead to mineral loss and cavities.
2. Use fluoride toothpaste
Not just any toothpaste will work against demineralization.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends fluoride toothpaste. In fact, toothpaste won’t get the ADA Seal of Acceptance unless it contains fluoride.
Fluoride toothpaste may prevent tooth decay and can also strengthen your teeth, making them less susceptible to future mineral loss.
3. Cut out sugar
Your dentist has likely warned you about sugar in the past, and for good reason. Sugar is highly acidic and interacts with bacteria in the mouth by breaking down tooth enamel.
More importantly, one study Trusted Source found that a higher frequency in sugar consumption led to demineralization more than the amount of sugar consumed.
In other words, eating sugary foods in small amounts on a regular basis can do more harm than eating the occasional sugar-laden dessert.
4. Chew sugarless gum
The role of gum in oral health has been debated for decades, but studies are showing that sugarless versions may actually promote tooth remineralization.
According to an older studyTrusted Source, sugar-free gum helps remove sugar, plaque, and carbs from teeth while also encouraging your salivary glands to produce more saliva.
Gum may also act as a barrier to block mineral loss. Xylitol and sorbitol appear to be the most promising sugar-free ingredients. To reap the remineralization benefits of sugarless gum, consider chewing after or between meals.
5. Consume fruit and fruit juices in moderation
While fruit is part of a healthy, balanced diet, it can also be highly acidic. Some of the worst culprits are citrus fruits, such as grapefruit and oranges.
Fruit acids create a process of calcium chelation on tooth enamel. This means that the acids bind to calcium and strip it away. Fruit juices are even worse, as these are highly acidic and often contain added sugars.
Your best bet is to stay away from juices and to eat acidic fruits only on occasion.
While calcium is produced within the teeth naturally, this important mineral is stripped by acids and bacteria over time. You can replace calcium by eating calcium-rich foods. For example, a 2003 studyTrusted Source found that eating calcium-rich cheese could counteract the effects of eating sugar.
If your diet is deficient in calcium, talk to your doctor about possible supplementation.
A 2012 study found that taking vitamin D supplements may help protect against cavities. Ask your doctor or dentist about taking vitamin D supplements.
You should also talk to them about daily multivitamins to be sure you’re getting other needed vitamins for healthy teeth.
7. Consider probiotics
When considering probiotics for remineralization, it’s important to choose strains that are naturally produced in the mouth. That way, you’re replacing the good bacteria without introducing potentially harmful strains.
The following probiotics are potentially helpful in oral health and remineralization:
You can find probiotics in supplement form and certain yogurt brands also contain probiotics. You’ll need to take these daily for the best results.
8. Address your dry mouth
Dry mouth occurs when there isn’t enough saliva production. Saliva is not only important in keeping your mouth feeling comfortable, but it also helps prevent cavities.
According to 2016 researchTrusted Source, saliva is an integral part of remineralization. Saliva not only prevents dry mouth, but it also contains phosphate and calcium.
If you have dry mouth, talk to your dentist about chewing gums and rinses you can use to increase saliva activity.
9. Reduce starchy foods
Starchy foods, such as potatoes, rice, and bread, are loaded with simple carbohydrates. These increase the amount of fermentable sugars in the mouth, which can erode your teeth.
However, according to a 2003 studyTrusted Source, the risk of tooth decay tends to be higher when eating starchy foods combined with sugar. For example, sweetened rice is problematic for the teeth, but plain rice is not.
10. Drink more water
Water continues to be the preferred beverage of choice by doctors, nutritionists, and dentists. It’s not only naturally sugar-free, but it also helps remove harmful substances from the body.
Rinsing your mouth out with water may also help reduce demineralization when you don’t have a toothbrush on hand. This technique may be especially helpful after eating acidic or sugary foods.
While coffee and tea aren’t completely off-limits, they do little to re-mineralize your teeth. Plus, these substances can be acidic (especially coffee). Adding sugar can make these drinks even worse when it comes to oral health.
Sodas are also acidic, and often contain sugar, so they should be limited, too.
The bottom line
Mineral loss is inevitable because of the elements that teeth are exposed to every day. From food and drinks, to saliva and bacteria, your teeth are put through a lot of wear and tear. While your teeth are built to take on these elements, too much demineralization can eventually wear them down.
Taking steps to re-mineralize your teeth and stop demineralization, along with regular visits to your dentist, can help keep them healthy.