Tooth Demineralisation: Causes, Effects and Treatment

Posted on: 31 August 2015

Enamel is the outer layer of the tooth structure which is responsible for protecting the vulnerable internal dental tissues. This material mainly consists of minerals such as crystalline calcium phosphate, so it is hard and very resilient. Unfortunately, this layer is susceptible to a process known as demineralisation. This is the superficial dissolution of the enamel layer which leads to tooth damage. Demineralisation is the first stage of dental cavity formation, and you can identify the condition by the frosty white lesions on the teeth. Here is a description of the common causes and effects of tooth enamel demineralisation and the treatment options.


Demineralisation is primarily caused by consistently exposing the enamel to acids. This can be produced by bacterial plaques, which accumulate in the oral cavity due to poor dental hygiene. Acidic beverages will also contribute to this condition if taken consistently. For example, soft drinks and flavoured water contain phosphoric acid, which has corrosive effects on the enamel. If you have gastrointestinal reflux regularly, the stomach acids which include hydrochloric acid will promote enamel breakdown. Additionally, citrus fruits like lemons and limes as well as drugs like methamphetamine will accelerate demineralisation. If you have an orthodontic device such as braces, you are at higher risk of enamel dissolution, because it is difficult to promote thorough cleanliness when these are in place.


The main effect of tooth enamel demineralisation is the weakening of the dental structure. Generally, when the acids break down the crystalline structure of the enamel, the minerals that strengthen the teeth start leaching out. The affected teeth will become sensitive to pain, temperature fluctuations and even pressure. Continued exposure of the oral cavity to adverse conditions will accelerate the damage. For example, if you continue to consume acidic drinks or cause abrasion by using the wrong toothbrush, the enamel layer will experience more erosion. Eventually, tooth enamel demineralisation will expose the internal tissues in the dental structure by forming a cavity.


Early demineralisation can be treated easily and reversed through the process of remineralisation. This involves applying topical fluoride in form of gels and varnishes on the teeth. In addition, brushing the teeth with fluoride-rich toothpastes will also contribute to the mitigation of damage. If the condition is advanced, the dentist may have to eliminate the affected parts of the tooth. The aesthetics and functionality can be restored using veneers or fillings.

Remember, you can prevent demineralisation and subsequent problems by maintaining a proper oral care routine. For more tips on how to protect your teeth, contact a professional dental clinic, like Absolute Smiles.