Everyone has bacteria in their mouths. The bacteria eat sugars that are left on the tooth, which then creates acid. The acid and the bacteria form plaque on the teeth. This plaque clings to your teeth. It holds the acid to the tooth. The acid wears away the tooth. Over time, the acid can lead to tooth decay.
Measures that help prevent and stop tooth decay include:
Proper dental hygiene, including:
with fluoride toothpaste after meals or at least twice per day
between teeth and gums—Bacteria living between the teeth can only be removed with floss or interdental cleaners.
Getting regular dental check-ups and teeth cleaning
Limiting the amount of sugar and carbohydrates you eat and drink, including:
Rinsing your mouth with water after eating sugars
Replacing your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months
Avoiding sugar-containing drinks (including fruit juices), especially in baby bottles
Chewing gum with xylitol or sorbitol (may reduce your risk of developing cavities)
Talk to your dentist about the use of a
sealant. This is a protective plastic covering. It is applied to the chewing surfaces of teeth. Sealants usually last anywhere from 5-15 years.
Prevention is particularly important for children. Supplemental fluoride in early childhood can prevent early decay. Most local water supplies have fluoride. Fluoride can also be applied to permanent teeth as a long acting varnish. Re-varnishing is usually necessary at least twice yearly.
Statement on early childhood caries. American Dental Association website. Available at:
. Accessed August 13, 2012.
Twetman S. Consistent evidence to support the use of xylitol- and sorbitol-containing chewing gum to prevent dental caries.
Evid Based Dent
8/2/2012 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
: Khadra-Eid J, Baudet D, Fourny M, Sellier E, Brun C, François P. Development of a screening scale for children at risk of baby bottle tooth decay.