The smile’s mineral

Aug. 1, 2006
Calcium is an important nutrient for health. Not only is it needed for bone, nerve, and muscle strength, it’s an essential element for lifelong tooth health.

Calcium is an important nutrient for health. Not only is it needed for bone, nerve, and muscle strength, it’s an essential element for lifelong tooth health. An inadequate intake of calcium causes calcium in blood levels to drop, and this plunge prompts the body to borrow calcium from the bones.

A deficiency occurs when a person’s diet does not supply enough calcium for regular function. When this happens, there may be insufficient calcium floating in the bloodstream to return the borrowed calcium from the bones, and the body’s bones and teeth become at risk for calcium deficiency.

Teeth need calcium and healthy saliva, which are rich in minerals and allow the natural remineralization process to occur. Calcium strengthens the tooth’s enamel and acts as a buffer agent for plaque acids. Calcium also helps reduce tooth dentin sensitivity. Because calcium has so many benefits, it makes perfect sense for the mineral to be incorporated into professional and daily use via dental products.

Amorphous calcium phosphate (ACP), found in a variety of hygiene products, buffers the free calcium and phosphate ion activities at the tooth surface. Furthermore, calcium permeation enhances remineralization and inhibits demineralization.

Several over the counter and professionally dispensed products claim to have the calcium advantage. One of the over-the-counter toothpastes is produced by Arm & Hammer, which has soluble calcium ready to be delivered to the tooth surface. When teeth loose their luster and rough crevices or irregularities are detected, using Arm & Hammer’s Enamel Care products may help restore the surface integrity. These unique pastes also contain fluoride, which works with the calcium during the remineralization process. Raising the level of calcium in a soluble form fills in the rough areas and restores the tooth surface luster.

Enamel Care is divided into dual tubes. One side has the toothpaste ingredients, and the other half contains liquid calcium. If the ingredients co-mingled in the tube, the special minerals would bind and become inactive. The consistency on both sides of the tubes is about the same. For best results, squeeze the tube evenly and firmly from the bottom, after pressing the paste towards the cap, so that both sides of the chamber are evenly dispersed.

For in-office use, a new product to the prophylaxis paste category is Enamel Pro by Premier Dental. During the polish, the paste applied to the patient’s teeth mixes with the saliva and creates ACP, which becomes incorporated within the tooth surface. The ACP encourages remineralization of the enamel and continues to work after the paste is rinsed. Also, the ACP blocks surface pit incongruities by depositing mineral.

Enamel Pro is available in four flavors and a variety of grits. When the seal is peeled back on the single-dose cup of Enamel Pro, the product emerges as a “pie sliced” paste of two shades. The light shade is smooth and the dark shade is somewhat gritty, and these come together upon polishing. The paste has a smooth, non-splattering consistency and satisfactory stain removal, which rinses from the mouth easily. Patients like the flavors, and the practitioner enjoys the polish’s pleasant aroma.

Another in-office preventive aid with calcium benefits is the Aegis pit & fissure sealant material offered by the Harry J. Bosworth Company. When the oral environment with the sealant is challenged by a possible carious attack, ACP is prompted to release calcium ions gradually, which become available for remineralization of the tooth structure. The Aegis sealant includes the ACP as filler, which is hard wearing yet flexible and creates a durable sealant.

Even though the sealant material contains ACP, placement of the opaque sealant is applied with the same technique required by other dental sealants. The flow of the sealant is not runny, and the material stays where it is placed when the heavier gauged syringe tip is used. The goal of this product is to fill the tooth occlusal crevices, protect from bacteria and prompt remineralization by discharging calcium ions through ACP dissolution.

Teeth need calcium. When calcium is available in conjunction with proteins in saliva, remineralization of the tooth structure is likely. Products that incorporate calcium ions - making them available to the tooth structure when the mouth is placed in an acid-compromising condition - provide a valuable resource in dentistry.

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