By Dr. Mercola
Most people regard a cavity, or even a root canal, as a minor inconvenience. But if your tooth has begun to decay to the point that a cavity is evident, this is a major sign that disease-causing bacteria has begun to overpower your immune system and your body.
In fact, your teeth are constantly under attack from the foods you eat, the beverages you drink and bacteria, so much so that your body constantly works at repairing small amounts of damage to the enamel of your teeth. If you're healthy, this should be enough to prevent cavities from forming, but if the bacteria overwhelm your system, dental decay can result.
Specifically, cavities form on your teeth when the acid-producing bacteria in plaque dissolve the mineral in your teeth. While microscopic at first, the cavities can increase in size and number until the decay must be drilled out and repaired with a filling or crown, a root canal performed, or the tooth removed. But now researchers have developed a paste that may actually stop and even reverse this dental decay process, helping your body to rebuild your teeth from the inside out.
Is This the End of the Dentist's Drill?
Researchers at the University of Leeds have developed a peptide-based fluid known as P 11-4. When applied to a decayed tooth, P 11-4 forms a gel-like scaffold that attracts calcium to help rebuild your tooth. As the University of Leeds reported in a press release:
"In practice, this means that when applied to the tooth, the fluid seeps into the micro-pores caused by acid attack and then spontaneously forms a gel. This gel then provides a 'scaffold' or framework that attracts calcium and regenerates the tooth's mineral from within, providing a natural and pain-free repair."
When the fluid was tested on a small group of adults with early tooth decay, results showed P 11-4 successfully reversed the damage and regenerated tooth tissue. This is the latest data from what appears to be a promising new dental strategy. Similarly, in 2008 scientists were also able to rebuild dentin and remineralize some parts of the teeth with the help of a calcium-containing solution of ions.
Regenerating your tooth from within is a far superior option to the "drill-and-fill" model currently used today, and it appears to be a technique that may soon be widely available in dentists' offices. Aside from the obvious benefit of tooth regeneration while sparing people the pain and fear of having a tooth drilled, this new procedure could virtually obliterate the use of toxic mercury fillings (if our efforts don't get them banned first!) …
If You Have a Cavity, Resist This Archaic Dental Procedure
The very process of "filling and drilling" a cavity is a rather outdated practice, but so far there has been no other practical solution to remove the damaged areas of a tooth and "repair" it. But, adding insult to injury, about 50 percent of U.S. dentists are still using mercury to fill cavity-ridden teeth -- even though exposure to mercury, the most toxic and more vaporous of the heavy metals, can harm your kidneys, permanently damage your child's developing neurological system, and even kill your unborn child in the womb!
To implant amalgam, a dentist drills out healthy tooth matter in order to carve the crater necessary for amalgam placement -- a primitive process that irreversibly weakens tooth structure. With a damaged tooth structure and with a metal-based filling that expands and contracts with temperature changes, teeth with amalgam are much more likely to crack years later, necessitating additional dental work.
Amalgams are quick and easy. Dentists make more money per chair per day implanting mercury. For factory-style dentistry, where teeth represent dollar signs instead of part of a human being, dentists drill, fill, and bill. The term "drill, fill, and bill" is a joke aspiring dentists learn in dental school. But when it comes to mercury - it's no joke. Please realize that mercury vapor from amalgams passes readily through your cell membranes, across the blood-brain barrier, and into your central nervous system, where it can cause psychological, neurological, and immunological problems.
Yet, even though it may be a few years before P 11-4 and other tooth-regenerating fluids are widely available, there are solid alternatives to mercury fillings available right now. One of the most popular is resin composite, which is made of a type of plastic reinforced with powdered glass. Unlike amalgam, resin composite does not require the removal of significant amounts of healthy tooth matter. Over the long term, composite preserves healthy tooth structure and actually strengthens teeth, leading to better oral health and less extensive dental work over the long-term.
A lesser-known alternative is atraumatic restorative treatment (also called alternative restorative treatment or ART), which relies on adhesive materials for the filling (instead of mercury) and uses only hand instruments to place the filling, making it particularly well-suited for rural areas of developing countries.
Preventing Cavities 101: The Secret to Healthy Teeth
Tooth regeneration is certainly a step up from using toxic substances like mercury to fill your teeth. But do you know what's even better than tooth regeneration? Protecting your teeth and preventing cavities in the first place.
When it comes to oral hygiene and preventing cavities, there's a virtual war going on. If you listen to conventional health agencies' and your dentist's advice, you may still believe that fluoride is the answer.
The only way you can believe this misguided advice is if you completely ignore the science. Good oral health and strong, healthy teeth are NOT the result of drinking fluoridated water and brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste. Rather it's all about your diet.
Dr. Weston A. Price, who was one of the major nutritional pioneers of all time, completed some of the most incredible research on this topic back in the 1900s, and it is still very much relevant today. What he found, and documented in his classic book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, is that native tribes who were eating their traditional diet had nearly perfect teeth, and were almost 100 percent free of tooth decay -- and they did not have toothbrushes, floss, toothpaste, or root canals and fillings.
But when these tribal populations were introduced to sugar and white flour, guess what happened … their health, and their perfect teeth, rapidly deteriorated. By avoiding sugars and processed foods, you prevent the proliferation of the bacteria that cause decay in the first place.
Most people whose diet includes very little sugar and few processed foods have very low rates of tooth decay. So the simple act of limiting, or eliminating sugar, and avoiding processed foods -- along with regular cleanings with your natural mercury-free dentist -- will ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy and cavity-free naturally.