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The Prevention of Tooth Decay
The Prevention of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay may lead to CAVITIES. It is the loss of tooth surface substance caused by germs (bacteria). Bacteria form a sticky layer over the tooth surfaces called PLAQUE. When sugar is ingested, the plaque bacteria convert sugar to acid. The acid may then dissolve the tooth surfaces resulting in cavities.

How can I prevent tooth decay?
  1. Limit the frequency of intake of sugar.
  2. Efficient brushing and flossing to remove the plaque from the teeth.
  3. Appropriate use of fluoride.
  4. Fissure sealants.
  5. Regular dental check-ups.

1. Limit the frequency of sugar

As well as controlling the amount of sugar in your food and drink, it is important to keep the frequency to a minimum. The more frequently you eat or drink sugar, the more likely you are to get tooth decay.

Avoid sugary snacks between meals. Savory foods, cheese and fruit are better for your teeth than sweets, biscuits and cakes.

Make sure your beverages during the day are sugar-free. Usually, you may find that sugar has already been added (e.g. syrup to lemon tea) in these beverages.

Avoid rampan caries
Never dip babies dummies into honey or syrups.
Do not leave babies or children with a bottle at night.

2. Proper Tooth Brushing and Flossing
Plaque is difficult to see because it is the same colour as the teeth.
Below is a picture of teeth which have been disclosed using a plaque disclosing agent.

You can buy disclosing agent in tablet form to use at home.

Good plaque removal has the added benefit of keeping the gums healthy and preventing gum disease.

3. Fluoride
Fluoride which is swallowed or applied directly to the teeth acts in many ways to reduce the chances of tooth decay.

In Hong Kong, fluoride is added to the water supply; unless adviced by your dentist, it is not necessary to add fluoride to the diet by taking fluoride tablets or drops.

Fluoride is present in most toothpastes; for young children, try to use no more than the size of a pea.

4. Fissure Sealants
Fissures are natural indentations in the biting surfaces of the back teeth.

Fissures are more prone to decay, more difficult to keep clean and less protected by fluoride than the smooth tooth surfaces.

Your dentist can seal in the fissures to make the teeth less prone to decay.

5. Regular Visits to Your Dentist
Your dentist can advise you on preventing dental disease.

Regular visits will allow the dentist to detect tooth decay at an early stage, when cavitation may be prevented.