How can tooth decay and gum disease be prevented?

  • Tooth decay and gum disease are both preventable diseases.
  • There are four main weapons in the fight against tooth decay:
    • Correct diet
    • Oral hygiene and plaque control
    • Fluoride
    • Fissure sealants
  • Too much sugar in the diet, and dental plaque on the teeth, are the main causes of tooth decay and gum disease.
    It is important to cut down the amount of sugar consumed, and to eat a generally balanced and healthy diet.
  • Bacteria interact with food particles to form mouth acids that cause tooth decay.
  • The bacteria that are responsible for gum disease are in the plaque.
  • Plaque can harden to form calculus that predisposes to gum disease.
  • It is therefore essential that plaque should be removed twice daily to prevent decay and gum disease.
  • Fluoride can make teeth more resistant to mouth acids.
    It can also reverse the effects of decay in the early stages.
  • A fissure sealant is a white plastic material that is placed into the grooves of newly erupted back teeth to prevent decay.
    • The pits, grooves or fissures on the chewing surfaces of molar teeth are the areas that are vulnerable to decay.
    • The sealant prevents plaque from forming in these areas.
    • The sealant is bonded to the tooth soon after it has erupted.

2. Why is correct diet important to the prevention of tooth and gum disease?
3. Why is plaque control essential to the prevention of tooth and gum disease?
4. What makes fluoride a valuable weapon against tooth decay?
5. What is a fissure sealant?