Decalcification, also known as demineralization, is the loss of calcium and phosphate from the bones or teeth. It is the first stage, but a reversible stage, of dental cavities. Every time we eat acidic foods or drink acidic beverages, our mouths become acidic. It is the acid that pulls the minerals, calcium and phosphate, from the tooth structure. This causes hard enamel to be softened and weakened. The good news is that our own saliva is our body’s defense mechanism against the decalcification of our teeth. It washes the acids and food debris from our teeth and restores a neutral PH environment in our mouth. Saliva also replenishes calcium and phosphate to our teeth, a process called remineralization.
White spot lesions, or decalcified lesions, are caused from prolonged contact with acidic bacterial plaque (biofilm). The growth of this plaque is a continuous process. Plaque should be removed from all dental surfaces at least every twelve hours, and brushing and flossing are good ways to do this. When the acidic biofilm is not removed, it depletes the tooth surface of calcium and phosphate. Saliva is unable to neutralize the biofilm and the bacterial plaque is left to grow and evolve. Dry mouth can also dramatically increase the rate of decalcification, even with adequate plaque removal. Without the right amount of saliva, a dry mouth remains acidic for long periods of time. Therefore, the teeth are not replenished with calcium and phosphate, and white spots occur.
You can reverse this process with exciting new dental products and home care. We will discuss steps to help reverse white decalcified lesions in our blog and on our Facebook page next week.