How To Reverse Tooth Decay

What is inside our mouths?

Our mouths are full bacteria. There are hundreds of bacteria types living on our tongues, gums and teeth. Some bacteria can be helpful. Some bacteria are helpful.

Tooth decay can be caused by bacteria that uses sugars in foods to produce acids. These acids can cause cavities in the teeth over time.

What happens inside our mouths every day?

Throughout the day, a tug of war takes place inside our mouths.

One team is dental plaque, a sticky, colorless film made up of bacteria. It also includes foods and drinks with sugar or starch such as soda, juice, soda, and cookies. 

The bacteria make acids when we consume sugary or starchy foods or drinks. These acids start to eat away the enamel, which is the hard outer layer of the tooth.

The minerals found in saliva (such as calcium, phosphate, and fluoride) are on the other team. This team aids enamel in repairing itself by replacing minerals that have been lost due to an “acid attack”.
All day, our teeth experience this natural process of losing and gaining minerals.

What is the process of developing a cavity?

Acid attacks can cause enamel to lose minerals if a tooth is frequently exposed to acid — such as if it's exposed to sugary foods and starches. An white spot can appear in areas where minerals have been lost. This could be a sign that you have early decay.

This is where tooth decay can be stopped and reversed. You can restore enamel by using minerals found in saliva and fluoride from toothpaste.

If the tooth decay process is not stopped, more minerals will be lost. The enamel becomes weaker and more damaged over time, creating a cavity. Cavities are permanent damage that must be repaired by a dentist with a filling.

How can we help our teeth win the tug-of-war and prevent a cavity from happening?

Use Fluoride

Fluoride, a mineral that prevents tooth decay from happening, is an effective way to stop it. Fluoride can reverse or even stop early tooth decay.

Protect your teeth with fluoride. It does the below things :

  • Protects tooth enamel from mineral loss and replaces any minerals that have been lost
  • Reduces bacteria's ability to produce acid

You can get fluoride by:

  • Fluoridated water is available from a community supply. About 74% of Americans are served by a community-water supply system (If you have well water, please see the “Private Water and Fluoride” section of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth.

Your dentist may recommend fluoride for your child if you feel that it is necessary.

  • Use a varnish or fluoride gel to your tooth surfaces.
  • Fluoride tablets to be prescribed.
  • Recommend fluoride mouthwash.

Bottled Water

Many bottled water doesn't contain enough fluoride for tooth decay prevention. Talk to your dentist if your child only drinks bottled water. Ask about fluoride supplements in tablet, varnish, and gel form.

Pay attention to what your child eats and how often.

A cavity prevention strategy that involves your child's diet will be effective. Keep this in mind: Remember, Every time we consume sugary or starchy foods or drinks, our bodies produce acids. These acids start to eat away the enamel of teeth.

This acid attack can be fought with saliva. However, repeated acid attacks can be won if we eat often throughout the day, especially if we consume sugary and starchy foods. This will cause the tooth to lose minerals and ultimately develop a cavity.

It's crucial to monitor the frequency which foods your children eat.

Tooth-friendly Tips:

  • Limit between-meal snacks. This will reduce the acid attack on teeth and give teeth a chance of healing.
  • For special occasions, save candy, cookies, soda and other sugary beverages.
  • Limit the intake of fruit juice. Follow the Daily Fruit Juice Recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • After brushing their teeth, make sure they don't have sugary drinks or food. Sleeping causes a decrease in saliva flow. Tooth damage after acid attacks is lessened if there is not enough saliva.


Make sure your child brush

It is important to brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste in order to prevent cavities.

When your children brush, make sure you supervise them. Here are some things you need to know:

  • Children aged 3-6 years old can use the toothpaste to brush their teeth. Only use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. ( Children under 2 should not use fluoride toothpaste, unless your dentist or doctor tells you otherwise.
  • Encourage your child not to swallow the toothpaste. Children younger than 6 years old tend to swallow a lot of toothpaste.
  • If children regularly consume higher-than-recommended amounts of fluoride during the teeth-forming years, their permanent teeth may develop white lines or flecks called dental fluorosis. Fluorosis can be mild and often not noticed by a dentist. 
  • You will need to brush your child's teeth until they turn 7 or 8. Young children can't brush their teeth by themselves. Start by brushing your child’s teeth first and then let them do the rest.

Ask a dentist for sealants

Dental sealants can also be used to prevent cavities. Sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth or molars. Sealants are useful because the chewing surfaces of back tooth's are uneven and have small grooves and pits. 

Because toothbrush bristles are unable to remove them, bacteria and food can get trapped in these grooves. These surfaces are protected by sealants, which act as a barrier to prevent food and bacteria from getting stuck.

Most cavities in children and teens develop in the molars (back teeth). It is best to have these teeth sealed as soon a possible.

  • Between the ages 5 and 7, permanent molars, called “6-year molars”, are born.
  • When a child turns 11, or 14, the second permanent molar – “12-year molars”- is introduced..

Bring your child to the dentist regularly

Regular cleanings and examinations by a dentist are recommended. The dentist or hygienist will perform the following:

  • Remove dental plaque
  • Examine for early tooth decay.
  • You and your child should learn how to clean thoroughly the teeth
  • If necessary, apply a varnish or fluoride gel
  • Schedule your next regular check-up

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