What is dental caries?
Dental caries or tooth decay is a demineralisation of the tooth surface caused by acids produced by bacteria in the mouth. The cavities are the result of prolonged loss of minerals, like calcium and phosphate, from enamel and dentine. A white spot on the tooth, often near the gums, may be an early sign of demineralisation. At this early stage, minerals can be replaced with the help of fluoride and repair the tooth. If minerals continue to be lost, a hole (cavity) forms in the tooth and a filling is needed to repair the damage.
Decay in adults is common on the chewing surfaces, the surfaces between the teeth and around fillings. A particular problem may be decay on the root surfaces of teeth when gums recede.
What can you do to prevent caries?
Remove plaque thoroughly from all tooth surfaces by daily brushing and flossing.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste at least twice daily, in the morning and before bedtime.
- Use a soft toothbrush. Brush in a set pattern so that you don´t miss any teeth.
- Use floss or other special cleaning aids to clean between teeth, where cavities often develop (ask your dental professional how to use).
- Make changes to your diet to reduce sugar intake - beware of hidden sugar.
- If you have the feeling of a dry mouth, talk to your dentist or your hygienist.
- Have a regular dental checkup, at least once a year. Your dentist or hygienist can recognise the early signs of tooth decay, like white spots near the gumline, while a dark spot may be decay or may be a stain.
How does fluoride work?
Fluoride acts against the destruction of the tooth surface by acids formed by bacteria in several ways. It forms a store of fluoride on the teeth from which fluoride is released during an acid attack. It reduces the loss of minerals from the tooth and promotes the repair of early decay.
Why increase caries protection in case of a dry mouth?
A lack of saliva results in a dry mouth. Saliva is the body´s natural defence against tooth decay. Saliva washes away and neutralises acids and puts minerals back into teeth. If you lack adequate saliva flow, your teeth can decay and wear away more easily and you can get more gum problems.
Smoking, caffeine, some medicines and illnesses that affect saliva glands may reduce your saliva flow. It is important not to suck on sugary sweets or to drink sugary drinks to relieve the feeling of a dry mouth. These habits can cause very rapid tooth decay. In case of dry mouth talk to the dentist or your hygienist.
How to use oral care products for effective caries protection correctly
With today´s diets, saliva alone is not enough to prevent tooth decay for most people. Fluoride is also needed each day. Generally, using a fluoride containing toothpaste twice a day and regular drinking of water that contains fluoride will provide enough protection.
Studies have shown that brushing twice a day using fluoride toothpaste reduces the risk of tooth decay much more than brushing only once a day.
However, additional fluoride protection may be needed if the risk of tooth decay is higher, i.e. due to dry mouth, frequent intake of sugary food and drinks.
In this case your dentist or dental hygienist may advise the temporary use of a high fluoride toothpaste.
It is important that you remove plaque daily and thoroughly from all tooth surfaces by brushing and flossing. If plaque is not removed each day, the plaque can harden to form calculus (tartar). Calculus cannot be removed by brushing. Calculus traps more plaque and makes it more difficult to keep teeth clean.
Floss is the best tool to clean between teeth where a toothbrush can´t reach. 40 % of the tooth surfaces are interdental surfaces (between teeth)! If flossing proves difficult, there are other means, like interdental brushes and toothpicks. Get the advice of your dentist or dental hygienist what is best suited for you.
Mouthrinses do not replace the need to brush and floss everyday. They provide extra fluoride in case of higher risk of tooth decay. Generally, fluoride mouthrinses are used once or twice daily, preferably between tooth brushing. Mouthrinses are not recommended for children under 6 years of age. Always read the label and use only as directed.
Fluoride varnish is a thin coating of resin that is applied by dental professionals to the tooth surface to protect it from decay. In this way the varnish delivers its fluoride directly to the tooth surface and helps to slow, stop, and reverse the process of caries formation. Fluoride varnishes have the practical advantage that they have a non-offensive taste and are easy to apply by a dental professional. They are normally recommended for children or for people with a moderate to high risk of developing caries, like orthodontic patients.
What makes Caries Protection Products from Colgate so special?
With over 50 years of clinical research in oral health, Colgate has built significant expertise in fluoride and caries prevention. Based on this expertise, Colgate offers a wide range of highly efficient products for everyday use to prevent caries. This includes various Colgate Toothpastes (adapted to the different life-stages and consumer preferences), Colgate NeutraFluor Mouthrinses, Colgate 360° Toothbrush as well as Colgate Dental Floss.