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Module 3: Prevention of Tooth Decay

Key Points

  • Children should visit a dentist within 6 months of the eruption of the first primary tooth, and no later than age 12 months.
  • As soon as the first tooth erupts, parents should brush their infant's teeth using fluoridated toothpaste twice daily. Encourage parents to use a soft toothbrush that is appropriate for their infant's age.
  • Tooth decay can be reduced by 50 to 70 percent with exposure to proper amounts of fluoride.
  • All infants and children who drink fluoridated water benefit from systemic ingestion by incorporating fluoride into their developing teeth, as well as from important topical effects.
  • Topical fluoride is probably the most important method for preventing tooth decay.
  • Fluoride varnish is a topical fluoride-containing lacquer that is easily “painted” onto the susceptible surfaces of a child’s teeth.
  • 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.