Tooth Decay Prevention
- What It Is
- Risk Factors
- Living With
- User Questions
- Alternative Treatment
- Care Guide
- Questions for Your Doctor
- When to Contact a Doctor
- Find a Doctor
- Resource Guide
How to Prevent Tooth Decay
Measures that help prevent and stop tooth decay include:
- Proper dental hygiene, including:
- Brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste after meals or at least twice per day
- Daily flossing 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:
- Other sweets
- 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 nursing bottles, and careful brushing can help prevent childhood tooth decay
- Chewing gum with xylitol or sorbitol-This may reduce your risk of cavities.
Talk to your dentist about the use of a sealant , a protective plastic covering which is applied to the chewing surfaces of teeth. This is the location where initial tooth decay starts. Sealants usually last anywhere from 5 to 10 years.
Prevention is particularly important for children, especially after the permanent teeth come in. Supplemental fluoride in early childhood (with dose adjustment for the amount of natural or added fluoride in local water supplies) can prevent early caries. Fluoride can also be applied to permanent teeth as a long acting “varnish,” though re-varnishing is usually necessary at least twice yearly.