The key to preventing caries is to establish the habit of brushing your teeth after eating and to maintain a balanced and regular diet. It is also important to receive regular checkups at a dental clinic.
- Practice prevention at your home (self-care) in order to prevent caries effectively.
- Receive regular checkups and instruction on caries prevention (professional care) to maintain your dental and oral health.
Prevention of Caries
It is believed that caries occurs when the three factors of “bacteria (Streptococcus mutans), “tooth quality”, and “carbohydrates” (sugar in particular) coincide. In order to effectively prevent caries, it is important to understand the points of prevention for each factor.
- “Bacteria (Streptococcus mutans) → remove plaque, a mass of bacteria, to maintain the cleanliness of your mouth
- “Tooth quality” → develop tooth quality that is more resistant to caries
- “Carbohydrate (sugar in particular)” → improve your diet
These are the basic points for caries prevention.
Causes of Caries
What is Plaque Control?
Plaque control refers to the prevention of the formation of plaque or the removal of plaque, so as to prevent caries, periodontal disease or bad breath. Prevention has three purposes of “physically removing plaque”, “changing the properties of plaque that can not be removed” and “preventing plaque formation”. It is divided into daily prevention at home (self-care) and prevention at a dental clinic (professional care).
The following table summarizes the above points.
(performed at home)
(performed at a dental clinic)
|Removal of plaque
●Use of toothpaste
●Use of dental floss and an interdental brush
|●Teeth surface cleaning (PMTC*1)
|Changing plaque properties
|●Use of fluoride toothpaste
●Use of toothpaste or mouthwash containing
●Application of medicines such as antibacterial substances
|Prevention of plaque formation
*1: PMTC (Professional Mechanical Tooth Cleaning) refers to mechanical cleaning of the tooth surface performed by professionals such as dentists or dental hygienists.
*2: Sealant is a protection measure that prevents plaque from forming on teeth by filling in the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth with a plastic coating.
Caries Prevention at Home (Self-Care)
There are many things you can do at home to prevention caries.
Plaque Control through Careful Brushing
The habit of brushing after eating is important for preventing caries. In addition, saliva production decreases during sleep and the self-cleaning function of your mouth is reduced, creating an environment that promotes bacterial growth. For this reason, it is important to brush with extra care before bedtime.
It is recommended that dental floss or an interdental brush be used to remove plaque from areas that are hard to reach with toothbrush bristles, such as areas between teeth.
Plaque Control through Careful Brushing
Basics of Tooth Brushing
Caries Prevention through the Use of Fluoride Toothpaste
The most convenient way to use fluorine is to by means of fluoride toothpaste. When brushing with fluoride toothpaste, fluorine is retained in your mouth. If a small amount of fluorine is left around the teeth, it will promote remineralization or suppress acid production by streptococcus mutans. In addition, it strengthens teeth quality, making teeth more resistant to acid.
Fluoride toothpaste can be used in both children and adult to prevent caries, and it is recommended that it be used continuously every day.
The caries prevention rate of fluoride toothpaste is 20 to 30% after 2 to 3 years of continuous use. It is said that this rate will increase if it is used for a longer period of time. The amount of toothpaste necessary to bring out the maximum benefit of the fluorine in the toothpaste during each session of brushing is approximately 1g for an adult, which is about 1 to 2 cm in length. When rinsing your mouth after brushing, it is important that you do not wash all the fluorine from your mouth. It is ideal to rinse just once with 10 to 15ml of water.
Caries Prevention at a Dental Clinic (Professional Care)
Professional care refers to caries prevention performed by professionals, such as dentists or dental hygienists. At a dental clinic, you can receive not only examinations for caries, but also tooth brushing instruction and prevention measures including plaque removal or fluorine coating. Rather than going to a dentist just to receive treatments after being diagnosed with caries, visit your dentist on a regular basis to prevent caries.
In order to prevent caries and to ensure the healthy development of teeth, it is important to receive regular checkups with a dentist. The timing and frequency of regular checkups differs by age or oral conditions; please consult with your dental clinic.
Tartar Removal, Tooth Surface Cleaning
If plaque is left on teeth for a long period of time, calcium in saliva will deposit into the plaque and form tartar. The surface of tartar is rough and easily accumulates plaque. If left remaining for a long period of time, it will become thicker and harder. Tartar should be removed at a dental clinic, as it cannot be removed by brushing, and plaque will adhere to its surface and create more inflammation. In addition, it is recommended that a Professional Mechanical Tooth Cleaning (PMTC) be performed, and that plaque be removed from areas you cannot clean by yourself.
When highly concentrated fluorine is applied to the surface of teeth after removing plaque, the teeth will become strong and more resistant to acid. In the case of children, it is even more effective to apply fluorine coating on teeth that have just started to erupt. It is recommended that you receive a fluorine coating of your teeth on a regular basis.
However, the frequency of fluorine coatings depends on your age and oral conditions; please consult with your dental clinic.