Signs Of Dental Demineralization And How The Problem Is Addressed
Dental cavities are extremely common, with over 90% of individuals over the age of 20 having at least one dental cavity. This statistic may be surprising if you are an adult who has yet to be treated for decay. While cavities are not something that you have ever been concerned about, you should understand that your teeth may have started to demineralize, which is the precursor to dental decay. There are a few signs that this issue has developed. Keep reading to learn about a few and also how they can be addressed.
White Spots On The Teeth
If you inspect your teeth and notice bright white spots, then this is most likely the result of demineralization. The white pigmentation is called hypomineralization or hypocalcification, and it is caused by the release of minerals from the dental enamel. Mineral loss occurs when acids come into contact with the tooth enamel. These acids come from foods, beverages, and bacterial activity. Acid reflux, as well as conditions such as dry mouth and celiac disease, can contribute to an acidic environment in the mouth. The acids break down the calcium and other minerals that make up the tooth enamel.
As the minerals release from the teeth, the enamel thins and loses its shiny and translucent appearance. This is due to the rough nature of the enamel once minerals have leached from the teeth. Small pits increase the porous nature of the enamel, and this gives the teeth a flat or dull look. The flat appearance is what causes the white stains to appear on the teeth. In essence, it is an optical illusion because the teeth are not longer shiny.
If you do not address the issue, the white spots will typically turn dark in color. As demineralization advances, cavities appear. Also, the pores and pits in the tooth enamel will pick up stains and look darker than the rest of the teeth.
Demineralization doesn't only change the appearance of the teeth, but it also contributes to sensitivity as well. If you suddenly start feeling strong sensations when you bite down hard or eat a hot or cold food, then the loss of minerals is typically the cause. Specifically, as mineral loss advances, the openings or crevices that naturally develop in the tooth enamel deepen and widen. This exposes the layer of tooth material underneath the enamel. This layer is called dentin, and it is porous, unlike the enamel.
Pores in the dentin help the teeth to feel sensations easier, especially since the tooth enamel is hard and impenetrable. The pores are called tubules, and they can create some strong sensations when stimuli come into direct contact with them. Dentin is not only more porous, but it is softer and weaker as well. Cavities can take some time to develop in the enamel, but they can decay the dentin fairly quickly.
Addressing The Issue
If you start to notice some signs of demineralization, you should speak to your dentist as soon as possible. The professional will help to remineralize the tooth enamel to strengthen the teeth so cavities are not a concern. Fluoride treatments are often suggested, and you may receive a topical administration with the assistance of a gel or a varnish.
While you may decide to use fluoride rinses and toothpastes at home, the varnish treatment is much more helpful in reversing demineralization. The fluoride used is a much greater concentration than what you can find from over-the-counter products. Your dentist can handle the strong fluoride material and keep you from ingesting it. This is important to keep you safe while also retaining the health of the teeth.
Depending on your condition, the treatment can be repeated once every three, six, or twelve months. Speak with your dentist about this and make arrangements for subsequent treatments if cavities are a major concern of yours. Contact a dental office like All About Smiles for more information.