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Module 3: Prevention of Tooth Decay

3.7 What Other Preventive Measures are Available?

Fluoride varnish is a topical fluoride-containing lacquer that is easily “painted” onto the surfaces of a child’s teeth. Professionally applied fluoride varnish is considered by many oral health professionals to be the preferred source of topical fluoride for infants and young children because it is better tolerated and less likely to be swallowed than other forms of topical fluorides.

Xylitol, a low-calorie sugar substitute used in certain chewing gums and other food products, has been shown to reduce the incidence of tooth decay in mothers and children. Short-term exposure to xylitol is associated with decreased Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans) levels in saliva and plaque. In addition to decreasing the incidence of tooth decay, xylitol also decreases the transmission of S. mutans from mothers or other caregivers to infants and children.