CAVITY PREVENTION TIPS
Oral hygiene is the primary prevention against dental caries. This consists of personal care (proper brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least daily) and professional care (regular dental examination and cleaning, every 6 months). Select X-rays may be taken yearly to detect possible cavity development in high risk areas of the mouth.
Chewy, sticky foods (such as dried fruit or candy) are best if eaten as part of a meal rather than as a snack. If possible, brush the teeth or rinse the mouth with water after eating these foods. Minimize snacking, which creates a constant supply of acid in the mouth. Avoid constant sipping of sugary drinks or frequent sucking on candy and mints.
The use of dental sealants is a good means of cavity prevention. Sealants are thin plastic-like coating applied to the chewing surfaces of the molars. This coating prevents the accumulation of plaque in the deep grooves on these vulnerable surfaces. Sealants are usually applied on the teeth of children, shortly after the molars erupt. Older people may also benefit from the use of tooth sealants.
Fluoride is often recommended to protect against dental caries. It has been demonstrated that people who ingest fluoride in their drinking water or by fluoride supplements have fewer dental caries. Fluoride ingested when the teeth are developing is incorporated into the structure of the enamel and protects it against the action of acids.
Topical fluoride is also recommended to protect the surface of the teeth. This may include a fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash. Many dentists include application of topical fluoride solutions as part of routine visits.
Chewing gum containing xylitol, wood sugar, is widely used to protect teeth in some countries, being especially popular in the Finnish candy industry. Its effect on reducing plaque is believed to be based on bacteria not being able to utilize it like other sugars.
It has also been found that certain kinds of cheese like cheddar can help counter tooth decay if eaten soon after having eaten foods potentially harmful for teeth.
Lastly, a vaccine for dental caries has been researched through previous years, but no effective vaccine has been created yet. Research is currently ongoing.