Demineralization vs. Remineralization
Updated: Mar 2
Demineralization and remineralization play a significant role when it comes to the hardness and strength of tooth enamel. The struggle to keep teeth strong and healthy is dependent on the ratio between demineralization and remineralization. Demineralization occurs when the oral environment has a low pH. Enamel crystal consists of carbonated apatite and is dissolved by acids that are produced by the cellular action of plaque bacteria in the presence of dietary carbohydrates and acidic drinks. This is the earliest stage of tooth decay and is commonly seen on the facial surfaces of the teeth. Remineralization happens when minerals like calcium, phosphate and fluoride reunite with tooth enamel through consumption of food and water. When there is an imbalance between the demineralization and remineralization process tooth decay can occur.
In the development of dental caries, the relationship between demineralization and remineralization is influenced by the presence of saliva. According to the American Dental Association saliva naturally adds minerals like calcium and phosphate to teeth to replace what has been stripped away during the demineralization process. It is this complex interrelationship that we must understand better to maintain healthy enamel structure.
The presence of saliva isn’t the only part of remineralization that is important. The pH level plays a crucial role in the whole process. The pH level is the acid/alkaline balance in your saliva and the ideal pH should be 5.6 or above. The pH level decreases when you eat and drink certain things causing mineral loss of the enamel and leaving teeth at risk to tooth decay.
The production of saliva can be compromised for some that have autoimmune diseases, salivary gland conditions and prescription medications. If salivary flow or dry mouth is observed, it is important to discuss the issue with a doctor or dentist.
To prevent demineralization and maintain a proper pH balance of the saliva, diet and oral hygiene habits play a vital role. Specific ways to promote remineralization include:
· Rinsing with water after eating and drinking.
· Using products with calcium phosphate (ACP), fluoride and hydroxyapatite promote
· Maintain good oral hygiene habits by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day.
· Avoid foods high in sugar, carbohydrates, and acid foods.
It is important to remember that demineralization and remineralization is a natural process that is managed best by the patient. With the right preventative care the patient can continuously remineralize tooth enamel before it loses enamel strength.