The enamel on your tooth is one of the hardest and most mineralised parts of your body. Its main function is to protect the sensitive inner layers of your teeth from decay and sensitivity. Unfortunately, the enamel may become weaker over time from losing its mineral content, exposing your teeth to decay. This process is known as demineralisation and can happen for various reasons, mainly due to poor or inefficient oral hygiene and high or frequent sugar intake.  

With the right toothpaste, however, you can replace the lost minerals and strengthen your enamel. In this article, we are going to look at the effects of demineralisation on your teeth, what remineralising toothpaste is and how it can help prevent further damage.

What Is Demineralisation?

Tooth demineralisation is a process where enamel loses calcium from its hydroxyapatite structure as a result of an acid environment in the mouth. Unchecked, it results in erosion and in extreme cases exposes the tooth to the decay process

Saliva acts as a buffer and neutralises acids in the mouth as part of a natural process and also remineralises the enamel. However, in extreme cases such as frequent consumption of acidic drinks, it cannot cope with the loss of calcium and this is where remineralising toothpaste are necessary

Losing Calcium

The enamel is mainly made of a mineral called calcium phosphate. According to a research study by Tufts University, your tooth’s enamel gains and loses this mineral among others every single day. The acids produced by the bacteria in your mouth and the foods you eat dissolve these minerals while your saliva, which contains small amounts of fluoride, phosphate and calcium replaces it. However, the number of minerals lost are too large to be replaced by the minerals in your saliva alone.

Loss of calcium may be the result of consuming too many sugary foods, acidic foods or poor dental and oral health care in general. It may also be due to calcium leeching from the tooth enamel to compensate for a calcium deficiency elsewhere in your body. This condition is typically experienced by people living with osteoporosis. All these processes lead to demineralisation, which weakens your tooth enamel, raising your risk of cavities.

Signs of Demineralisation

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Dental caries
  • Weakened enamel
  • Tooth pain
  • Tooth discolouration
  • Visible cracks

Risks of Demineralisation

You are at a higher risk of demineralisation if;

  • You have a high consumption of sugary foods at regular intervals
  • You do not practice good oral hygiene
  • You drink carbonated and fruit drinks
  • You brush your teeth vigorously with an incorrect brushing technique
  • Suffer from bruxism– tooth grinding, especially at night
  • You have low saliva flow. Increase your saliva flow by chewing on sugar-free gum and drinking more water. Saliva substitutes may also be taken if needed.
  • Use of drugs: Certain drugs tend to cause your mouth to dry out. Hence, they do not allow the saliva in your mouth enough time to neutralise the acids and naturally remineralise your enamel

How to Avoid It

Fortunately, there are a few ways you can help your mouth become a healthier place by avoiding demineralisation. Here are some of them:

  1. Practising good oral hygiene: this helps keep the bacteria away. Proper oral health includes brushing your teeth two times a day for two minutes and flossing once a day. Using a fluoride mouthwash at a separate time to or at least half an hour after brushing your teeth is also advisable.
  2. Use fluoride toothpaste: Fluoride toothpaste helps strengthen teeth and is the best aid for remineralising your teeth
  3. Cut down on sugars: Try to cut out most of the sugars you eat and drink, especially added sugars. Other than the obvious candy and soda, learn to look at processed food labels and avoid consuming sugary crackers, cereals, bread and certain canned foods etc.
  4. Increase natural food intake: add foods that are rich in minerals and vitamins to your daily diet to help increase remineralisation. Look for eggs, fish, cheese, apples, and dark leafy vegetables
  5. Add vital vitamins: Increasing vitamin D intake has been shown to prevent tooth decay
  6. Chew sugar-free gum: According to a study, chewing sugar- free gum helps remove plaque, carbs and sugar stuck in your teeth and also encourages the secretion of saliva
  7. Cut down your dairy consumption: While dairy products are a natural source of calcium, the lactose in traditional milk tends to increase acidity in your mouth
  8. Drink more water: Water helps remove harmful items from your mouth. Rinsing your mouth with water also helps reduce demineralisation

Remineralising Enamel

One of the best and most effective ways to remineralise your enamel is by using toothpaste that contains calcium phosphate, and stannous fluoride or any other form of fluoride. The secret, however, is to let the toothpaste sit on your teeth long enough to give the fluoride time to act. Whenever you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, your enamel absorbs small amounts of minerals replacing what you lost throughout the day. Over time, and with the consistent brushing with remineralising toothpaste, your enamel becomes stronger and more resistant to decay.  

What Ingredients Should A Remineralising Toothpaste Have?

  • Stannous Fluoride/Other Forms Of Fluoride: Fluoride is a key ingredient in the aiding of tooth remineralisation.
  • Calcium Carbonate: Strengthens your tooth enamel by providing the essential calcium. This mineral also helps pull out debris from your teeth and remove stains.
  • Bentonite Clay: This mineral is rich in calcium, which is crucial for remineralising the enamel on your teeth.
  • Baking Soda: This ingredient is highly alkalising and is often used in dental products to help maintain a healthy PH balance.
  • Cacao: This ingredient contains important compounds that aid in fighting tooth decay. For instance, it contains theobromine, which has been found to be more effective than fluoride at remineralising the enamel. It also contains polyphenols, tannins, and other flavonoids that help improve your overall dental health.
  • Activated Charcoal: This contains strong whitening and detoxifying capabilities.
  • Xylitol: Effective at remineralising the enamel and since it is also sugar alcohol, its taste makes toothpaste a little more palatable.
  • Concentrace Minerals: This ingredient contains various minerals, which help support the mineralisation process.
  • Clove Essential Oil: Helps in improving oral health by fighting bacteria in your mouth and slowing down decalcification.  

Dedicated Mouthwash & Pastes To Aid Remineralisation

If you suffer from tooth demineralisation, your dentist may prescribe you a specific mouth rinse or paste. Neither of which can be classified as a toothpaste but are more efficient in providing calcium in an absorbable form. Two common brands prescribed are:

INNOVA Mouthwash

Innova mouth wash for tooth remineralisation

GC MI Paste Plus

tooth demineralisation explained

When To See Your Dentist

We cannot stress enough the importance of visiting your dentist regularly to get a major head start against enamel demineralisation.  

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If you are worried about a dental related issue, interested in travelling to Malta for a dental holiday or have questions about any of the treatments we offer, please contact us using our new free e-Consultation service. One of our highly-qualified team will respond to your query as soon as possible. Our e-Consultation service is live 9am – 6pm Monday to Friday.

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Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.

Dr Joseph Xuereb
Dental & Implant Surgeon. Principal
Savina Dental Clinics

Joseph Xuereb
Joseph Xuereb
Principal Dental Surgeon & Owner of Savina Dental Clinics, Dr Joseph Xuereb BChD (Hons), MFGDP(UK), MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP RCS(UK), FICD is a general dental practitioner with a special interest in Implant and Restorative Dentistry. Dr Joseph & the teams' full biographical information can be found here.