Cavities are huge inconveniences, forming a gateway to many other dental ailments in your mouth. Tooth decay is the most common dental disease in the world, affecting 3.9 billion people worldwide, with untreated tooth decay impacting almost half of the world’s population (44%), says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So, there is a high likelihood that most people you know are ridden with tooth decay and its exploitations. But what if we told you that your pesky cavities can actually be reversed?
What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay, clinically known as dental caries is the destruction of the outer protective covering of the teeth, the enamel. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, is constantly forming on your teeth surfaces. As you feast on high sugar or starchy foods, the leftover food particles and debris in your mouth are simultaneously converted into acid by acid-producing bacteria. This acid targets the tooth enamel, successfully breaking it down and forming pit-like cavities on your teeth.
Can tooth decay really be reversed?
Tooth decay is a rapidly progressing issue but oftentimes, it can be halted. Yes, tooth decay can actually be reversed! The substantiated size of the cavity and the degree to which it has progressed through the enamel help determine the reversibility of the tooth decay. Tooth enamel goes through demineralization when it is attacked by decay. If caught early, the tooth can be treated with fluoride and the area can be remineralized to stop the decay.
6 ways to reverse tooth decay
Tooth decay is reversible, but how do you do it? Here are the top 6 ways you can turn the effects of tooth decay around and verify a life of proper oral health.
Pay attention to the drink you order
Be aware of the pH values in the beverages you consume. Drinks such as coffee can create an extremely acidic environment in your mouth and help fester bad bacteria that are responsible for tooth decay. Switching out coffee for green tea may make a world of a difference for your oral tissues. A 2016 study indicated that green tea may actually be able to reduce oral bacteria which, in turn, can promote oral health. Antimicrobial molecules called “catechins” found in green tea have the potential to kill bacteria associated with tooth decay and gum disease.
The best beverage for preventing and reversing cavities is water. It helps neutralize the acids in the mouth and may even be a temporary substitute for brushing in situations when you simply can’t. Rinsing your mouth with a cup of water after every meal can help lower your chances of deep uncontrolled cavities. Using a straw to sip on drinks can also help minimize the time it takes for the drink to soak your teeth surfaces. What you drink makes a huge difference in reversing tooth decay.
Change your meal patterns
The second most obvious dental hack for deceiving tooth decay is to eat right. This means you leave sugary foods out of your daily meal preps. Sugar is like a drug to your oral bacteria, they toast to a high-sugar meal. Bacteria feed on sugar to thrive and further worsen a tooth decay. Simply cutting out sugar can solve a lot of your problems with tooth decay. The World Health Organization says that eating sugar is the most important risk factor for cavities. They recommend reducing your sugar intake to less than 10% of your total caloric intake for the day. Lay low on frequent snacking. The goal is to give your teeth enough time to remineralize, so every minute away from sugar intake will help your teeth become stronger.
In more good news, studies in the British Medical Journal suggest that a change in diet can actually reverse tooth decay. A few easy tweaks in your diet can help you keep tooth decay at bay like getting more calcium (in kale, broccoli, dairy) to strengthen your teeth and simply avoiding carbonated sweetened drinks.
Maintain outstanding oral hygiene
This has been said and done many times in the past, but it really works. According to the International Dental Health Association, almost 42% of adults use only a toothbrush for their oral care. However, if you want your teeth to stay protected from dental caries, you might have to do more than just that.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Try to cover all the surfaces of your teeth by angling the toothbrush strategically.
- Use a fluoridated toothpaste that carries the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Fluoride is crucial in preventing cavities and helping remineralize enamel.
- Floss your teeth at least once a day as it gets rid of the food remnants that have been lodged between your teeth. Simply brushing your teeth may not do the trick.
- Use a mouthwash to remove any remaining “harmful” bacteria in your mouth. Avoid rinsing with water immediately after, for the effects to remain longer.
Chew sugarless gum
Unknown to many, chewing sugarless gum after a meal can actually help fight off cavities. Most sugarless varieties of gum contain a natural sweetener called xylitol. Unlike many other natural sweeteners, xylitol is considered a “sugar alcohol” which means that it cannot be degraded into acid by acid-producing bacteria in your mouth. Chewing xylitol gums lower the pH of your mouth, sustaining an alkaline environment that is counterproductive for decay-causing bacteria to thrive in. Since these microbes cannot survive in your mouth, plaque accumulation goes down a significant notch and you will be freed from the grips of tooth decay.
Additionally, the act of chewing itself also promotes saliva production in the mouth, which in turn flushes away the food particles. The American Dental Association (ADA) confirms that sugarless gums are in fact non-cariogenic, preventing tooth decay and helping in the remineralization process of the enamel.
Regular dental visits and dental health
At the end of every dental session, your dentist urges you to visit again in six months or earlier for a follow-up on your oral status. In every dental commercial, the actors play out an elaborate narrative to convey to you the importance of visiting your dentist as regularly as possible. Massive dental and medical organizations tirelessly relay their recommendations to visit your dentist at least twice a year. With so much enthusiasm for the issue, it has to be of some benefit, right?
Various researches support this infamous “six-month recall” as the cornerstone of modern dentistry, and all for good reason. Many dental problems, even deep cavities, can cause pain and discomfort. Visiting your dentist at least twice a year gives your teeth the reassurance that your condition is well-protected. Professional fluoride treatments at your dentist help reverse tooth decay. These treatments contain more fluoride than your average toothpaste and mouth rinses. For quicker and a more active remineralization process to ensue, odd sessions of fluoride varnishing may be required.
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic dental technique that involves swishing a tablespoon of concentrated oil in your mouth for around 20 minutes. Ayurveda hypothesizes that this action draws out toxins in your body and helps reverse tooth decay.
Oil pulling has been found to generate antioxidants which damage the cell wall of microorganisms and kill them. The oils attract the lipid layer of the bacteria and cause them to stick together. By the end of 20 minutes, since oil and bacteria are both hydrophobic, most of the bacteria are removed from the tooth surfaces. The oil may subsequently inhibit the coaggregation of the bacteria and plaque by coating the teeth. Researches have supported this claim.
Home remedies like chewing sugarless gum and changing up your diet won’t get rid of your existing tooth cavities on their own. But these techniques will surely keep your tooth cavities from getting bigger and also prevent the onset of new ones. The earlier a cavity is detected, the better. Make sure to visit a dentist as soon as possible to have them assess your teeth for cavities. Contact 4Smile to meet the best dentists for this job!