Decalcification occurs when calcium and phosphorous minerals are removed from the tooth surface. These minerals are a normal part of your tooth’s composition but can be depleted or lost due to plaque accumulation. When plaque is allowed to sit on the enamel for long periods of time, the bacteria in your mouth utilize the sugar from your diet to form an acid. The acid will start to dissolve or weaken the enamel and cause white decalcification spots. Eventually, the decalcified areas will lead to a cavitation and cavity.
Factors that can increase your risk for decalcification:
• Consuming drinks with carbonation or high acid content
• Sugary drinks or snacks that help bacteria form acids
• Not brushing your teeth twice a day
• Not brushing long enough, you must brush for 2 minutes!
• Not flossing daily
• Braces can accumulate plaque around the brackets
• Acid reflux exposes your teeth to added stomach acid
• Dry mouth, not enough saliva present
• Breathing through your mouth can make plaque more sticky
• Certain medications taken for conditions or diseases can decrease saliva
How to prevent or maintain decalcification:
• Proper diet, limit sugary snacks and acidic drinks
• Proper daily brushing and flossing
• Over-the-counter fluoride toothpastes, gels and rinses
• Fluoride varnish applications from your dentist every 4 to 6 months
• Drink plenty of water, it helps dilute the acidic environment
• Chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva flow
• Breathe through your nose rather than your mouth to reduce dry mouth
• If taking medications that cause dry mouth, use products that stimulate saliva flow (examples: Salivea or ACT Dry Mouth products)