Demineralisation: What You Need To Know

Posted on: 8 July 2016

Enamel is the substance which forms the outer layer of your teeth. It helps to protect the sensitive tissues and pulp which form the inner part of each tooth. The minerals from which enamel is formed help to create a very resilient barrier. However, enamel is susceptible to progressive demineralisation. Demineralisation is the first step towards the formation of a cavity in the tooth. Below is a brief guide to the causes of demineralisation, its impact upon your dental health and the treatment options available to combat it.

The Cause of Demineralisation

Demineralisation occurs when the enamel on your teeth is exposed to acids. These acids are normally created by plaque, which accumulates on your teeth and gums. Acidic liquids, such as soft drinks which contain phosphoric acid, contribute to the condition by corroding the enamel on your teeth. Gastrointestinal reflux, a condition in which stomach acid enters the mouth, or the use of drugs such as methamphetamine can also have a corrosive effect, accelerating the process of demineralisation. Other dental treatments such as braces can increase the risk of demineralisation because they make it difficult to properly clean your teeth.

The Effects of Demineralisation

The primary effect of demineralisation of the tooth enamel is an overall weakening of your teeth. This occurs as the acid breaks down the crystalline structures within the tooth enamel, causing the gradual loss of minerals from within the tooth structure. The first thing you will probably notice is that your teeth become much more sensitive to pain and hot or cold food and drink. Continued exposure to acids which cause decay will lead to an acceleration of the damage, causing the layer of tooth enamel to become thinner. Eventually, the erosion will lead to the exposure of the internal tissue and pulp of the tooth as a cavity forms. This will lead to increased levels of pain and discomfort.

Treatment Options for Demineralised Teeth

If the problem is caught early enough, your dentist should be able to help reverse the damage by applying a fluoride gel to the affected area. This will help to remineralise the teeth. Your dentist may also recommend that you brush your teeth using a fluoride-rich toothpaste. If your teeth are in a more advanced stage of demineralisation, your dentist might recommend restoring your teeth using veneers.

If you have any concerns about your teeth, you should contact a dental professional who will be able to offer help, advice and treatment.