Mechanistic studies on demineralization-remineralization play a critical role in investigating caries pathogenicity, testing effects of new caries prevention methods, and developing new caries-preventing products. Simulating the cariogenic challenges in the mouth, various demineralization-remineralization models have been used for cariology research. This review aimed to provide an overview of the common mechanistic studies on demineralization-remineralization for cariology research in recent literature. Most mechanistic studies were in vitro studies (n
= 294, 84%) among the 350 cariology studies indexed in the Web of Science from 2014 to 2016. Among these in vitro studies, most studies (257/294, 87%) used chemical models that could be classified as simple mineralization models (159/257, 62%) or pH-cycling models (98/257, 38%). In vitro studies consumed less expense and time than in vivo studies. Furthermore, in vitro conditions were easier to control. However, they could hardly imitate the complex structures of oral cavities, the microbiological effect of oral biofilm, and the hydrodynamic instability of saliva. The advantages of chemical models included simplicity of the study, low cost, efficiency (time saving), reproducibility, and stability of experiments. However, the “caries” generated were not biological. Moreover, the chemical models were generally basic and could not mimic a carious lesion in the complex oral environment.
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