Prevention and Treatment

The most important method for controlling dental caries is restricting sucrose and other refined dietary carbohydrates, thereby reducing Streptococcus mutans colonization of teeth and acid production by cariogenic plaques. Dental caries can be reduced by 90% if sucrose-containing sweets are eliminated from the diet. It is not, however, simply the quantity of sugar in the diet that is important. The frequency of eating and the length of time food stays on the teeth is more critical than the actual quantity of sucrose ingested. Interestingly, chewing paraffin or sorbitol-sweetened gum reduces dental caries, probably because it increases the flow of saliva.

Trace amounts of fluoride are required for teeth to resist the acid of cariogenic plaques. Fluoride makes tooth enamel harder and more resistant to dissolving in acid. In the United States, more than 100 million people are currently supplied by fluoridated public drinking water, which has resulted in a 60% reduction in dental caries. In areas where fluoridated drinking water is not available, fluoride tablets or solutions can be used. To have optimum effect, children should begin receiving fluo

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