Tooth Decay

Overview

shutterstock_245845876Although tooth decay has declined among young children as a group, it can still be a problem for individual children, and even teens and adults. That’s because plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, constantly forms on your teeth. When you eat or drink foods containing sugars or starches, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack tooth enamel. The stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with your teeth and after many such attacks, the enamel can break down and a cavity forms.

Preventing Decay:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner.
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.
  • Ask your dentist about dental sealants, a protective plastic coating that can be applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where decay often starts.

Plaque: What It Is and How to Get Rid of It  — PDF File (280KB) (only available in printer-friendly PDF)
This brochure shows how to brush and floss.