Prevention is aimed at keeping the teeth, the gums and the lining of the mouth strong and healthy.

Our first concern, in young people, is to ensure strong, healthy enamel which will in turn provide a lifetime of trouble free function. To this end we advocate the use of fluoride supplements in children. These have been shown give teeth incredible protection against tooth decay. The fluoride helps the tooth form a much more compact and acid resistant enamel and children who have had the benefit of fluoride supplement have up to 90% fewer cavities than those who don’t have that advantage.

Obviously correct diet is very important in promoting the health of all the structures in the mouth. Frequent intake of refined sugars is the main enemy of dental health. If one is going to indulge in refined sugars, do it after a meal and brush immediately afterwards if possible.

Both tooth decay and gum disease are infections caused by bacteria. Prevention of these conditions is aimed primarily at removing the collections of bacteria. These bacteria collect on teeth in a layer called plaque. These bacteria harm the oral environment in 2 main ways:-

  • The waste product of the bacteria’s energy cycle is acid. This acid will decalcify the enamel and allow cavity formation.
  • The bacteria stimulate an inflammatory state in the gum surrounding the tooth. This causes the gum to become swollen which in turn allows more bacteria to trap. This eventually will lead to gum disease.
The main tool in our armamentarium to combat these bacteria is good oral hygiene. This will disrupt the plaque layer in which the bacteria live. Correct tooth brushing is the primary weapon. The electric toothbrush has been shown to be more effective than a regular toothbrush in removing plaque. Just as important is the daily use of dental floss as this removes the plaque which accumulates between the teeth. The use of mouthwashes do not really do much to remove the plaque. They do make the mouth feel fresher and because one can gargle with them, the removal of the mucous layer on the back of the tongue is facilitated. It is this layer which will most frequently cause bad breath.

Smoking, excess alcohol, irritating habits can lead to mouth cancer. Always be aware of this danger and ensure your mouth is regularly examined.

While the daily home care procedures can initially be quite time consuming, practice will ensure that you can brush and floss your mouth within a few minutes. However, the benefits of those few minutes will give you and those with whom you come into contact a lifetime of pleasure.

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