How to prevent tooth decay
Every patient is different, so to provide the most effective caries prevention, each individual may require a unique combination of education and hygiene tools. Here, Katie Kupczyk shares her top 5 considerations for preventing tooth decay.
When there is a change in routine, such as switching from a manual toothbrush to an electric one, the dentist, hygienist, and dental team should continue to educate the patient on brushing technique. I suggest reviewing how to use an electric toothbrush correctly with patients. Often, they are not instructed on how to use the brush properly and, as a result, do not reap the full benefits.
This is a crucial player in caries prevention that rarely gets recognition. Knowing early on if the patient is deficient in saliva quantity or quality can prevent larger issues from occurring in the oral cavity. Providing patients with saliva-enhancing products or tips when indicated is crucial for caries prevention.
I ask patients if they drink a lot of water—if so, where is it coming from? Many communities fluorinate their water, but patients may source their water from filters, fridges, and bottled water. If a patient is not receiving his or her water from a fluorinated source, I might consider adding prescription fluoride paste and in-office varnish treatments.
Sealant materials have continued to advance alongside resin restorative materials, and those on the market today are effective, long-lasting, and easy to use. Sealants are standard in caries prevention for posterior teeth in both children and adults.
Education is a fundamental aspect of keeping patients healthy. Talk to your patients about the roles of diet and stress and how these will impact their dental and overall health. If there are factors in the patient’s lifestyle negatively impacting the homeostasis of microbes in the mouth, it can be an uphill battle to keep them caries-free.
About the Doctor
Kathryn Kupczyk, RDH, BSDH, BS attended DePaul University and completed her Bachelors of Science in Biology with a concentration in microbiology, where she presented at several research symposiums in Chicago. Afterworking in the hospital setting, Kathryn then went on to attend and graduate from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry with her Bachelor of Dental Hygiene while also obtaining a minor in business from the Ross School of Business. Currently Kathryn is an independent product consultant, member of Sigma Pi Alpha, and published periodical author for RDH magazine and RDH graduate. Kathryn works both in private practice as a clinician and is a Smile Club Dental Hygienist and Program Coordinator for the Boys and Girls club in Plover, WI.
Click here to read Katie Kupczyk's Article, A Hygienist's Guide to Preventive Dentistry