Every day, minerals are added to and lost from a tooth’s enamel layer through two processes, demineralisation and remineralisation. Minerals are lost (demineralisation) from a tooth’s enamel layer when acids attack the enamel. This may be from plaque bacteria fermenting carbohydrates, directly through acidic foods and drinks, or other conditions such a reflux. Minerals such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate can also be redeposited (remineralisation) to the enamel layer from saliva, fluoridated water, calcium-containing foods like cheese, and through applying products like toothpaste. Ideally this process is in balance. Too much demineralization without enough remineralisation and repair leads to tooth destruction. If your dentist determines that your teeth are tipped towards demineralization, they may intervene by prescribing treatments to favour the process of remineralisation instead.
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Tooth decay (dental caries) is painful, expensive to treat and can seriously damage teeth. Most people know that fluoride is a mineral that is proven to help prevent tooth decay. Teeth are more resistant to acid attack from plaque bacteria in the presence of fluoride. Fluoride can help speed remineralisation and disrupts acid production and the growth of plaque bacteria. It is also is added to the water supply in mineral poor areas like Brisbane to correct it to a level optimum for dental health. Fluoride may also be applied professionally by your dentist in the form of a lasting varnish. This is when your dentist determines an extra form of topical fluoride (in addition to fluoride toothpaste) can provide additional reduction in tooth decay, usually in children, adolescents, and those with higher caries (decay) risk.
Additionally, your dentist may also prescribe take-home treatments, as the benefits of additional fluoride are often seen over time and repeated use. Home treatments be applied in the form of toothpastes, mouth-rinses, gels or varnishes. For example, Colgate produce a high-strength fluoride toothpaste called ‘Neutrafluor 5000 Plus’, which contains about 5 times as much toothpaste than normal adult tooth paste available at supermarkets. This is obtained through dentists and pharmacies only with specific advice to do so by your dentist. Other fluoride-containing gels or mouth-rinses may be prescribed depending on your specific dental condition.
Remineralisation Agents – CCP
Fluoride can be incorporated in the structure of developing teeth in those aged 6 months to 16 years. A recent powerful addition preventive dentistry is products that contain the active ingredient, casein phosphopeptide (CPP) derived from bovine milk. CPPs are naturally found in saliva and tooth, and products containing this can boost the normal protective mechanism of remineralisation. Calcium and phosphate ions are also required for fluoride to harden tooth structure. By providing the right ratio of these minerals chemically in CPP products, we can enhance the effectiveness of fluoride. CPPs can prevent demineralisation even under acidic conditions of acid challenge, suppress bacteria sticking to enamel, and alter the ecology of dental plaque to favour beneficial bacteria. It is the only topical product able to reverse early decay to the full thickness of enamel (fluoride only can only harden the very outer microns)
CPP can be found in RecaldentTM chewing gum, GC Tooth mousse and Tooth Mousse Plus, all available over-the-counter at most dentists. Newer generation filling materials may also contain CPP to promote hardening of tooth structure under fillings. Because CPP is derived from bovine milk casein that is highly purified, it is suitable for those who are lactose intolerant. It is not suitable for those with a true allergy to milk protein (very rare).
GC Tooth Mousse and Recaldent is actually a great Aussie success story, invented at the University of Melbourne (Australia), and later sold to Cadbury-Schweppes and then Kraft (you may have some thoughts why!). Initially looking at why cheese was so beneficial for teeth, casein in milk was found to contain Amorphous Calcium and Phosphate ions that penetrate deeper into the tooth structure making it stronger and more resistant to tooth decay. It has also been repeatedly scientifically proven to reverse demineralised (weakened) tooth enamel and dentine and even to reverse early tooth decay and prevent new decay.
It comes in yummy flavours like Mint, Strawberry and Vanilla and is suitable for use all ages under dental supervision.
GC Tooth Mousse Plus is the same as Tooth Mousse, except it contains adult strength fluoride. Because CPP and fluoride work additvely, this product is even more effective in fighting tooth decay. However GC Tooth Mousse Plus is not suitable for children under the age of ten, and for people allergic to Casein (milk protein).
GC Tooth Mousse and Tooth Mousse Plus also have the great additional effects of whitening the enamel structure of the teeth, making them stronger, more resistant to tooth decay, reducing sensitivity, and tartar build-up! All this from one nightly application of the creme to your teeth.