Proper oral hygiene is vital to your overall health and wellbeing. When neglected, it can lead to several oral health concerns, including gingivitis and cavities. While gingivitis can be treated at home with correct daily brushing and flossing, many dental patients find themselves asking how to reverse cavities as well.
Can cavities be reversed without the intervention of a dental professional? Before diving into the details of how to reverse cavities, it’s essential to look at what cavities are and how they are formed.
What Exactly are Cavities?
In the U.S., research shows that approximately 13.2% of children and nearly 26% of adults have at least one untreated cavity. A cavity is a hole that forms on the surface of an otherwise healthy tooth. These holes are caused by the decaying of the tooth’s enamel, leading to the decaying of the inner dentin. Once the damage has made its way through the detin, it exposes the tooth’s inner pulp, which then exposes the sensitive nerve endings and can leave you feeling pain when chewing – or even when air passes over the nerves when breathing. It can also lead to infections and the loss of your tooth if not treated right away.
How Are Cavities Formed?
There are three leading causes for the formation of cavities: bacteria, plaque buildup, and sugar-laden food particles left behind in your mouth. Bacteria will feed off sugars found in foods and drinks like soda or candy bars until they produce acids. These acids then eat away at tooth enamel over time (a process called demineralization). If you don’t brush regularly enough, this plaque buildup can lead to more acid production, increasing the risk of further damage done to teeth.
Common Causes of Cavities
Many variables contribute to their formation, such as genetics. However, the most common causes of cavities include poor diet and oral hygiene practices. Other common causes of cavities include:
- Lack of fluoride
- Excessive dry mouth
- Acid reflux disease
- Eating disorders
Symptoms of Cavities
Believe it or not, many dental patients don’t even realize they have a cavity until more severe symptoms begin to surface, such as pain in the tooth while chewing or new temperature sensitivity.
The most common symptoms of a cavity include:
- Unusual tooth sensitivity in specific spots
- Tooth pain that is worsening over time
- Dull ache below the jawbone on either side of the teeth
- Gum swelling and redness, especially when you brush your teeth or eat acidic foods (such as pineapple)
- Tenderness when chewing
Suppose you don’t visit your dentist on a regular schedule. In that case, you may not notice any symptoms of a cavity until you begin to experience symptoms of an infected tooth, which can include:
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, under your chin, or near your ear
- Chills and shivers
- A general feeling of an illness coming on.
This can be treated with antibiotics if caught early enough but is likely to become more severe without treatment as time goes by.
Common Cavity Treatment Options
In many cases, people will only realize they have a cavity when it’s too late for anything to be done about it. At this point, you will likely need to seek out treatment from your dentist.
The first treatment option that will likely be suggested is a filling. A filling is a procedure that involves making an opening in the tooth and injecting it with a material to fill up space where food has been destroying your enamel. If the cavity is caught early on, the dentist may need to drill a hole larger than the cavity to fill it properly.
If your dentist does not feel that a filling is necessary, they will likely recommend getting an inlay or onlay. This involves taking a porcelain material and placing it over the cavity with resin to seal it off. This will then prevent the food and liquids that you eat/drink from further damaging your tooth.
Another treatment option for cavities is a crown. Crowns are commonly done if one of your teeth has been severely damaged by decay or there’s no other way to save them. A crown can be made from many different materials depending on what you need and how long you want it to last. For instance, porcelain provides a strong, natural look but can be expensive and doesn’t last very long. On the other hand, a metal crown is typically less expensive and can last up to 20 years. However, they do not have the same natural look as porcelain crowns.
Is Reversing Cavities Actually Possible?
Dental procedures can get quite expensive, leading many individuals to avoid them at all costs. When it comes to cavities, millions of people seek out solutions to the question, “how to reverse cavities.”
Can you actually reverse a cavity once it begins?
Cavities are Permanent
Unfortunately, when it comes to advanced cavities where the enamel has been destroyed, you cannot reverse the process without professional dental intervention. While tooth enamel is considered a tissue, it’s not a living tissue that can be regrown once destroyed through the decaying process.
However, if the cavity is caught early on before the enamel is destroyed, you can help regenerate your existing enamel if you know the signs to look for.
Early Signs of a Cavity
There are a few early signs that you can look out for to help prevent the decay process, including:
- Sensitivity or pain in your tooth when it’s exposed to hot and cold temperatures.
- Chalky white spots on the surface of your teeth.
- Small pits on your chewing surfaces. These pits may resemble a chipped tooth but have no symptoms of pain or discoloration.
If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms, then you’ll want to take action immediately to reverse the decaying process.
How to Reverse Cavities: 5 Methods Worth Trying
If you’re looking for methods on how to heal a cavity without fillings, then there are some ways that you can try to help with the regeneration of your existing tooth enamel:
1. Brushing Your Teeth with a Fluoride Toothpaste
The most common method to help reverse cavities is brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste. This helps to inhibit bacteria from forming, which leads to plaque buildup and causes a mineral loss in your tooth’s enamel. Fluoride will not only help to strengthen existing natural hard tissue within any cavity or weakened area on your teeth, but it will also prevent new decay from occurring.
You may also want to consider using a fluoride mouthwash as well.
2. Chew Sugar-Free Gum to Stimulate Saliva Production
The American Dental Association has shown that chewing sugar-free gum can help to stimulate saliva production, reducing your chances of developing cavities. Sugarless gum is an essential tool in fighting plaque bacteria, and it’s also an excellent way for people with dry mouths to produce more saliva. Saliva reduces acid levels in the mouth, which helps protect tooth enamel from further decay.
3. Alter Your Diet to Include Less Sugar and More Fiber-Rich Fruits and Veggies
Another way to help reverse cavities is by changing your diet. You already understand how detrimental sugar can be to your tooth enamel. So, instead of junk food, you should consider adding more fiber-rich fruits and vegetables into your diet.
Chewing these high-fiber foods helps to stimulate saliva production, which, again, helps to naturally reduce the amount of acid in the mouth.
4. Revitalization through Supplementation
In addition to dieting and tooth brushing, you can also help reverse cavities by taking supplements. This can be especially helpful for those who are vitamin/mineral deficient.
Some of the most popular supplements for reversing cavities include:
- Vitamin D3: Vitamin D can help with the absorption of calcium and phosphate.
- Vitamin C: This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant, which helps to protect your teeth from decay. Vitamin C also stimulates collagen production in the gum tissue, which will strengthen tooth enamel.
- Probiotics: Probiotics have been shown through studies to be beneficial for reversing cavities by decreasing acidity levels in saliva
- Magnesium: Magnesium can help with reversing cavities by keeping your teeth strong and healthy.
Of course, supplementation should never replace regular visits to your dentist. In fact, you should always speak with your dentist before you start adding any supplements to your daily routine, to ensure that they won’t cause any harm.
5. Consider Using an Oral Irrigator
Cavities can be reversed by using an oral irrigator. An oral irrigator is a tool, such as a WaterPik, that helps to remove plaque and food particles from teeth, reducing the bacteria that cause tooth decay. It does this in a few different ways
- It removes harmful substances such as sugars, proteins, and carbohydrates.
- It washes away any remaining debris on your teeth.
An oral irrigator can help you reduce cavities naturally because they do not use harsh chemicals like most other cavity treatments. Instead of aggressive brushing or chemical treatment methods, all you have to do is turn on the water as directed twice a day and rinse your entire mouth, making sure to aim between teeth to loosen any stuck particles.
Reversing Cavities: Popular DIY and Unconventional Methods
Some unconventional methods can help with the reversal process. These include:
- Drinking from a Straw: Drinking liquids from a straw can help encourage saliva production to break down any cavity-causing sugars.
- Oil Pulling: This is an ancient Ayurvedic technique that involves swishing oil around in one’s mouth. It also helps to reduce cavities because it stimulates saliva production and removes bacteria on teeth, which lessens plaque buildup.
- Chew on a Stick of Cinnamon: Cinnamon has been found to ward off cavity-causing bacteria and provide a natural antibacterial effect.
Keep in mind that these methods are not scientifically proven to work, and you should talk with your dentist before trying anything on this list.
The Best Restoration Method is Cavity Prevention
So, can you reverse a cavity without fillings? Reversing cavities means taking care of current cavity issues while preventing future occurrences through diet, lifestyle changes, and oral health maintenance like brushing and flossing regularly.
Of course, you should also maintain a regular schedule with your dentist, as they will be able to help you keep these cavities at bay while also identifying any new signs of possible cavities emerging.