Boy in red and white striped shirt wonders if tooth decay is reversible while standing against a green wall

Is Tooth Decay Reversible?

August 31, 2020 2:07 pm

We are all at risk for tooth decay and cavities throughout the span of our lives. Diet, dental hygiene, and lifestyle factors can all contribute to tooth decay. It may surprise you to learn, however, that at a certain stage, the damage of tooth decay can actually be reversed.

In this blog post, we discuss how you and your children can take control of your oral health to prevent cavities.

How Tooth Decay Happens

The outer portion of teeth is called the enamel. This protective white layer gives teeth their lustrous sheen. Enamel is your teeth’s first defense against damage, decay, cavities, and infection.

Bacteria in the mouth feast upon your dietary sugars, accumulate into plaque and tartar, and produce acidic byproducts. These acids weaken enamel by stripping it of minerals. This is called demineralization. A cavity, or hole, is the result of chronic demineralization. It indicates permanent damage to the enamel.

Demineralization vs. Remineralization

When enamel is temporarily weakened through demineralization, tooth decay can often be reversed through a process called remineralization. In this process, saliva deposits minerals like calcium and fluoride into the crystalline structure of enamel. This strengthens and hardens enamel against damage.

All day long our teeth are losing and gaining minerals that contribute to or take away from their health. Remineralization builds up the health of teeth by replacing lost minerals. When demineralization consistently occurs more than remineralization, decay develops into damage that cannot be healed naturally. It must be treated with a filling, root canal therapy, or extraction.

How to Reverse Early-Stage Tooth Decay

Good oral healthcare habits are key to preventing and reversing tooth decay. To promote remineralization:

  • Brush twice a day for two minutes each time with a fluoride toothpaste (remember the tongue!)
  • Floss daily
  • Drink plenty of tap water
  • Receive a professional fluoride treatment at the dentist
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Chew sugar-free gum for at least 20 minutes after meals to promote saliva production
  • Keep up with biannual dental visits so your dentist can check for signs of decay

Pediatric Dentist in Kerrville, TX

If you have additional questions about how to help your child reverse early-stage tooth decay, our team is here to help. Contact us today to discuss how you can keep your child’s teeth free of cavities!

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