What is the Process of Decay?

(Demineralization and Remineralization)

Every time you put refined sugar in your mouth, bacteria starts, within 30 seconds, to make acid from that sugar. If the acid concentrates on the tooth long enough, the minerals calcium and phosphorus are dissolved out of the tooth surface (demineralization). In the absence of an acid environment, minerals present in the saliva will redeposit on the tooth surface (remineralization). A hole, or cavity, occurs when more minerals dissolve out of the tooth than go back in. The next time that you drink a sugared, carbonated drink, feel the tooth surface with your tongue. It will feel slightly chalky because it is slightly demineralized. After an hour, it will fell smooth again because it has remineralized. See Recommendations for Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control Dental Caries in the United States. Scroll down to How Fluoride Prevents and Controls Dental Caries.