Working towards a cavity-free future

Posted on 10th October 2019

On World Cavity-Free-Future Day, the Australian Dental Association of WA reminds the public that tooth decay is preventable.

According to Dr Fleur Creeper, chair of the Oral Health Committee, there are numerous reasons we should be concerned about cavities.

“Cavities can lead to pain, discomfort, tooth loss, hospitalisation and disease but also can impact on eating, sleeping, schooling and employment, community participation and general life quality,” she says.

“Poor oral health in childhood is the strongest predictor of further dental disease in adulthood so starting life with good oral health is essential.

“Also, behavioural risk factors for dental disease are shared with many other chronic diseases such as unhealthy diet high in free sugars, tobacco and alcohol and poor oral health can impact your general health and may be associated with other health conditions, for example heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid disease and dementia,” she says.

“So, oral health is critically important for general health and wellbeing.”

Dental caries and tooth decay are the result of sugars in the foods we eat being used by the bacteria present in our mouth and producing acids as a by-product. Together, saliva and fluoride protect the teeth by neutralising the acid and replacing the lost minerals. When we regularly consume sugary foods and drinks, the saliva and fluoride may not be able to keep up replacing the tooth minerals. When the demineralisation is greater than remineralisation tooth decay can form and lead to a cavity or a hole in the tooth.

“Dental caries or tooth decay results when the plaque bacteria on the tooth convert the free sugars in food and drinks we consume to acids,” Dr Creeper explains. “These acids dissolve the tooth enamel and dentine over time and cavities (or holes) then form as a result.”

Dr Creeper adds tooth decay is preventable and not inevitable. “Preventing decay is not difficult,” she says. “As with most conditions, early decay can be reversed.”

She recommends taking the following measures to prevent tooth decay:

  • Maintain a healthy diet, low in free (added) sugars
  • Limit snacking (especially sugary foods and drinks) between meals
  • Brush twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste
  • Clean daily between teeth (using floss or interdental brushes)
  • Make tap water (ideally fluoridated) your beverage of choice
  • Book regular visits to your dentist for all family members, including babies and children

 

Quick facts (Source: ADA’s Oral Health Tracker)

  • Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in Australia – in both children and adults
  • 25.5% of adults have untreated tooth decay
  • 23.5% of children have experienced decay in permanent teeth
  • 10.9% of children have untreated tooth decay in permanent teeth

 

About World Cavity-Free-Future Day
World Cavity-Free Future Day (WCFFD) was launched in 2016 by the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future. WCFFD will be held on Monday the 14th of October. For details about WCFFD go to www.acffglobal.org/wcffday 

 

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