“Teeth demineralization” occurs when the outermost layer of the teeth (called the enamel) starts to weaken and deteriorate.
Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body and contains the highest percentage of minerals (96%)! However, enamel is not indestructible. As the minerals start to wear away due to a number of potential causes (which we’ll pinpoint in this blog), this indicates teeth demineralization.
Whether you’re currently in orthodontic treatment or not, we want to avoid teeth demineralization at all costs! Here’s everything you need to know:
Teeth demineralization causes
Potential causes of teeth demineralization include acid attack and plaque buildup.
Drinking beverages or eating foods with high acid content can lead to an acid attack. Acids left on teeth start to dissolve and erode the enamel layer. Beverages with high acid content include fruit juices and sodas. Foods with high acidity include citrus fruits, processed fruits, preserved meats and some dairy products.
- It’s best to avoid sodas and highly-processed foods as much as possible, since these items have a damaging effect on not only your teeth, but your oral health and overall health as well.
- When you eat or drink acidic items, be sure to at least rinse your mouth with water after. This helps to wash away the acids from your teeth, and prevent a longer acid attack.
Plaque breaks down enamel. When food particles are left in teeth, they contribute to bacterial growth, which causes a thick, sticky substance (plaque) to form. As plaque builds up on teeth, bacteria in plaque and the mouth mix together, forming an acid. This acid breaks down the enamel and leads to demineralization.
Plaque buildup can occur due to an insufficient oral hygiene routine and failure to brush after meals or floss at the end of the day.
- To prevent plaque buildup, it’s important to brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss at least once before bed. If you have plaque buildup, it’s a good idea to start brushing your teeth after every meal.
- It’s also important that you visit your dentist for professional cleanings every six months, or as frequently as advised. Your dentist has special tools that remove plaque and tartar.
- Use fluoride toothpaste! Fluoride is a mineral that helps to strengthen your teeth and preserve the rest of your enamel. It can also prevent cavities and further tooth decay.
What’s the harm in teeth demineralization?
Enamel is absolutely essential for protecting teeth from damage. When the enamel is compromised, teeth become more susceptible to tooth decay (cavities), sensitivity, plaque buildup, staining, and more demineralization.
Plaque buildup & stains
The enamel helps create the smooth surface of the teeth. Once the enamel wears down and tooth demineralization occurs, the tooth surface becomes rougher with grooves. Plaque and tartar can start to build up in these nooks and crannies, which contributes to further demineralization. This also makes teeth more susceptible to stains, as it becomes more difficult for your toothbrush to thoroughly clean all edges of the grooves.
Over time, demineralization can expose the sensitive inner layer of the teeth (dentin) as well as the tooth roots. Exposed layers of the teeth are highly sensitive, which can make it painful to brush your teeth, eat and drink.
The inner layers of teeth are also much softer than enamel, which makes these layers easier to damage through normal functions like chewing, biting down, and clenching/grinding your teeth.
Does tooth demineralization affect orthodontic treatment?
Yes, tooth demineralization and damaged enamel can affect your orthodontic treatment results with braces or clear aligners. For orthodontic treatment to be successful and stay on track with your personalized treatment plan, your teeth need to be strong. The tooth movement process is quicker and more efficient with strong, supported teeth.
Plaque buildup on teeth can cause orthodontic treatment to be uncomfortable, as your gums become inflamed and tooth roots become more sensitive. It also compromises the appearance of your smile. We want to avoid these possibilities at all costs!
Still have questions about tooth demineralization?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions! Dr. Spillers, Dr. Gordon and our team are here to help you achieve incredible results from your orthodontic treatment. We’re proud to be the most experienced orthodontists in Middle Georgia, and we’re here to give you all of the tips and info you need.
Check out our braces FAQ page for answers to common questions in the meantime. Ready to begin your smile transformation? Let’s get started! Request your complimentary consultation with us in Warner Robins or Macon, Georgia!