Dental Prevention

What must we do to Prevent Dental Caries?

In order to get a cavity you must have:

1. Bacteria (plaque)

2. Sugar (food for the bacteria)

3. Not enough protection (fluoride/saliva)

4. Time- cavities do not appear over night from a sugar binge, they occur over months and years of losing the remineralisation/demineralization battle.The rate of dental caries varies depending on host of different factors.

So in order to prevent a cavity we must:

1. Decrease the amount of bacteria/plaque- toothbrushing. flossing, interdental brushes, specialist cleaning

2. Decrease the amount and frequency of sugar- Diet advice

3. Increase protection- Fluoride/ fissure sealants/ saliva substitutes (if you have xerostomia).

These are our three approaches for treatment and whilst improving any one will help, the best plan of attack is to tackle all three simultaneously.

How do we know this Help will Prevent Caries?

Good question- I once had a little 4 year old girl I was treating in Cardiff Dental Hospital and every time I said "OK so we need to do XYZ" she would say "Why?" and it didn’t matter how many times I answered, her response was always "Why?" After my fourth ‘why’ explanation, the mother said "She’s not actually listening to you- she just likes the word"- which made me laugh.

What's my point.. well, I am sure my answers were useful for the mother in understanding the reasons behind what we were doing. If you understand the reasons behind doing something, it makes actually remembering what to do much easier (because it just makes sense) and the argument for doing it so much more compelling because you know what will happen if you don't.

For that reason, understanding what really happens in tooth decay is so important. The following links explain it clearly and simply:

What is Dental decay?
What happens to your mouth (Stephan curve) every time you eat or drink something?
Am I at risk of dental decay?

Where can I get decay?

How does decay progress?