Dentistry has been at the forefront of prevention since the late 1940’s (when my life started), promoting the fluoridation of community water supplies, and in the mid-fifties with the ADA joining Proctor and Gamble to broadcast the “Look Ma, No Cavities” TV ads for Crest, which stressed periodic visits to your dentist combined with the use of a fluoridated toothpaste. Then through the decades continuing to convince resistant American communities that a tiny amount of fluoride (1 part per million parts of water). Then working with Corporations, Unions, Insurance companies and employees to bring dental plans into popularity into the 70’s and 80’s.
After all this, it still appears that Americans continue to visit their dentists regularly at a rate below 40%, with children going in greater numbers than adults (by force, I’m sure!)
What does all this have to do with preventing cavities? First, you and your children are ahead of the game if you live in a community that has fluoridated water. Fluorides from the water supplies are taken up by all layers of the baby teeth as they develop in the uterus. And even more is take up after birth as the adult teeth continue to form under the gums. Second, it’s still important to use a toothpaste that contains an effective fluoride every day, to keep adding more of fluorides protection to the outer layers of tooth enamel. Using floss daily between the teeth to remove food particles that a toothbrush can’t get to is also important for preventing tooth decay that forms between the teeth. And, finally, seeing your dentist every 6 months for professional cleanings, examinations and in-office applications of fluorides.
And if all this doesn’t work at preventing cavities for you, then it’s important that those cavities are detected early, while they are small, so that they easily repaired, and so that they are far less likely to grow into broken teeth, or major infections in the nerves, gums and jawbones.