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Dental and Oral Health (Children)

What is Preventive Dentistry?

We all have teeth - and we all want to keep them for life! The purpose of Preventive Dentistry is to help each of us keep our teeth and gums healthy today and every day.

There have been great strides made in preventing the incidence of dental disease. One of the most successful efforts, spanning the last 65 years, is the fluoridation of community water supplies. Although drinking fluoridated water reduces dental decay by 15 to 40 percent1 that alone is still not enough to prevent dental disease.

The two primary causes of tooth loss, decay and gum disease, are generally caused by bacteria in the mouth. However, both of these problems can be dramatically minimized, if not prevented, through proper dental hygiene practiced on a regular basis. Some of the elements of proper dental hygiene include brushing twice a day, flossing, eating a balanced diet, limiting between-meal snacks, and seeing your dentist twice a year for cleaning and exam.  Additional preventive methods include the application of dental sealants and exposure to fluoride in the form of fluoridated drinking water, toothpaste, mouthwash, or fluoride treatments directly applied by your dentist.

The vast majority of dental disease can be prevented, but only through the consistent practice of the prevention methods discussed. Please browse this topic area to learn more about the anatomy of healthy teeth and gums, brushing and flossing technique, water fluoridation, dental sealants, fluoride supplements, and the relationship between smoking and dental disease.

1American Dental Association, After 60 Years of Success in Fighting Dental Decay, Water Fluoridation Still Lacking in Many Communities, 2005.

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Last Reviewed: Jun 28, 2010

James   Lalumandier, DDS, MPH James Lalumandier, DDS, MPH
Professor of Community Dentistry
School of Dental Medicine
Case Western Reserve University