Nor did we anticipate the strong feelings it would stir among both those who had similar questions and those sure we were “dead wrong,” as one commenter put it.
Since then, we’ve elaborated some key points in the comments, but since the post keeps getting a lot of views and not everyone is a comments-reader, we figured a follow-up was in order.
A lost restoration exposed arrested decay & remineralized dentin. Compare the rough look of the dentin to the smooth enamel still on the tooth.
Through more than three decades of providing holistic, biological dental care, we’ve seen many patients who have stopped decay and spurred remineralization through diet, supplements and improved oral hygiene.
Not once in those 30+ years have we seen a tooth heal in the way described in the original post. Never does the original defect heal. The dentin simply hardens, and the cavity stops getting bigger.
The clinical term for this hard, gnarled dentin is arrested decay. It will never be covered over smoothly with enamel because enamel is the one tissue the body cannot regenerate. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
If a tooth with a suspected cavity comes to look unblemished, identical to the teeth around it, it was probably not a cavity in the first place – or at such an early stage of the disease process that the enamel wasn’t significantly damaged at all.
If it once had a “big hole” that’s mostly filled in, the remineralization will be obvious.
When a tooth has a deep cavity of decay, the decalcified dentine has about the density of rotten wood. With an adequate improvement in nutrition, tooth decay will generally be checked provided two conditions are present: in the first place, there must be enough improvement in the quality of the saliva; and in the second, the saliva must have free access to the cavity. Of course, if the decay is removed and a filling placed in the cavity, the bacteria will be mechanically shut out. One of the most severe tests of a nutritional program, accordingly, is the test of its power to check tooth decay completely, even without fillings. There are, however, two further tests of the sufficiency of improvement of the chemical content of the saliva. If it has been sufficiently improved, bacterial growth will not only be inhibited, but the leathery decayed dentine will become mineralized from the saliva by a process similar to petrification. Note that this mineralized dentine is not vital, nor does it increase in volume and fill the cavity.[emphasis added]
We realize that, to a non-dentist, this can all seem like nitpicking, but we feel it would be wrong to fuel the illusion that this petrification process is a “cure.” This isn’t to say that it’s worthless. For all practical purposes, it’s a fix that works. It can be “good enough.”
So why try to make it something more than it is?
No doubt, there are those who will always insist they’ve seen a miracle – a cavity that once was there but now is gone, with the tooth looking exactly as it did before the decay set in. Seldom is that cavity diagnosed by a dentist. Seldom does a dentist see the tooth at all before “cure” begins. If one is consulted after, they may well say that they found “no cavity,” but this tells you very little about the actual state of the tooth.
With not even before and after photos to compare, you’re left with just anecdotes – compelling, but a problematic form of “proof,” prone to bias errors of all kinds.
Does this mean don’t bother trying to stop decay? Of course not! We just want people to understand exactly what it is that they’re doing (and what they’re not doing).
Choosing to take charge of your own health and well-being requires having correct information. Without it, you can wind up flying as blind as those who take the opposite tack, handing responsibility over to their dentist or physician.