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
Using a soft-bristled toothbrush or a powered toothbrush
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. The dose can be adjusted for the amount of natural or added fluoride in local water supplies. 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: ...(Click grey area to select URL) 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 ...(Click grey area to select URL) 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.Arch Pediatr
5/17/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance ...(Click grey area to select URL) Moyer VA. Prevention of dental caries in children from birth through age 5 years: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. Pediatrics. 2014 May 5. Available at: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf12/dentalprek/dentchfinalrs.pdf. Accessed May 17, 2014.
7/15/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance ...(Click grey area to select URL) Yaacob M, Worthington HV, et al. Powered versus manual toothbrushing for oral health. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Jun 17;6.