We often talk about tooth enamel as if it’s not replaceable, and that’s partly true. Once tooth decay or trauma has removed enamel from some part of your tooth, it can’t be grown back and has to be replaced with a filling or dental crown.
But while you still have enamel on your teeth, it can be repaired, and finding ways to speed the repair of enamel is one of the main goals of noninvasive dental care. Now a new toothpaste is incorporating an advanced approach to doing just that, one that promises to repair tooth damage for hours after brushing.
The Remineralization Battle
In your mouth, there is a constant war between the forces that want to remove various minerals from your teeth and those that want to restore it. Acidic beverages and excretions from oral bacteria leach minerals from your teeth. Meanwhile, minerals in your saliva slowly restore those lost minerals.
Many things can tip the balance one way or another. Whenever you drink acidic beverages, the acid can do significant damage within seconds. And snacking constantly ensures there’s always a steady supply of acid depleting your enamel. And overnight, when your saliva production drops, the mouth can become highly acidic for hours, causing significant damage to your teeth overnight.
On the other hand, drinking water can neutralize acids in your mouth (most municipal water is slightly alkaline), and if the water’s fluoridated, it supplies your saliva with a vital catalyst that speeds up the process of remineralization. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste also helps speed remineralization while it removes damaging bacteria.
But there’s still the problem of overnight damage to your teeth. Even if you don’t rinse after brushing, the fluoride from your toothpaste is soluble and will be eliminated from your mouth in a couple of hours. That’s what this new toothpaste hopes to overcome.
The secret to this new toothpaste is tiny bioglass marbles that contain fluoride. Bioglass is a special type of glass that is biodegradable. When we say tiny, we mean that they’re narrower than a human hair. That allows the marbles to completely dissolve in the mouth overnight.
And as the marbles dissolve, they release fluoride, calcium, and phosphorus–which gives your body not only the catalyst but also the essential building blocks of tooth enamel.
An Unproven Technology
It’s important to note that this toothpaste hasn’t really been tested in any clinical trials (or, at least, none that the company is ready to tout in support of its product). And it’s not been approved for sale in the US. The clearance process for toothpastes is pretty lax, so it’s likely that it can be sold here if the British company decides to market their product to US consumers. And, of course, you can always buy it over the Internet.
And it’s not just that its effectiveness hasn’t been proven, but we haven’t looked at potential side effects of the technology yet. One potential side effect is that the steady release of minerals could increase the rate of tartar formation. Tartar is the hard deposits that form at your gum line and can only be removed during your regular dental visits. It’s formed when dead bacteria become “fossilized” by absorbing minerals in your saliva. More minerals might mean more tartar.
We’ll have to keep an eye on this product and see if it proves its usefulness. In the meantime, if you are looking for a San Diego dentist to help prevent or repair decay, please call (619) 299-5925 for an appointment at Strober Dental.