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Preventing Tooth Decay Data Sheet by Joanna LiVecchi

Posted by worldorphanrelief on July 30, 2012

Joanna LiVecchi



  1. It’s very important to brush regularly to keep the teeth as clean as possible. Bacteria in dental plaque feed off of sugar alcohols that are formed from the breakdown of carbohydrates and sugary foods.  The bacteria and sugar alcohols combine to create acids that begin to demineralize the enamel.  Tooth decay begins when the pH level of saliva falls to the critical level of ph 5.5 (very acidic).   Normal saliva (saliva present in the mouth when no food is being consumed) is neutral.
  2. Try to avoid regularly consuming sticky sweet foods such as raisins, honey, sweetened peanut butter, toffee and chewy candies.  These foods tend to stick to the teeth and are not easily washed off by saliva.  They will sit in the grooves of teeth and can increase the chance of the tooth becoming demineralized.  It’s a good idea to rinse out your mouth with water after consuming a sweet sticky snack.
  3. It’s actually not the best idea to brush your teeth right after eating something sweet and sticky.  The enamel is temporarily softer the first 30 minutes after being exposed to the acids created by sugar reacting with oral bacteria.  The mechanical force, of the tooth brush bristles, generated while brushing can erode the softened enamel and actually aid the decay process.  It’s best to wait for about a half hour or so and then thoroughly brush to remove any remaining food particles.
  4. Soda, iced teas, sweetened drinks, and even natural fruit juices all can contribute to decay when consumed regularly.  Soda has the greatest potential for decay because it has a high sugar content and is carbonated.  The carbonation is acidic and combined with the high sugar content can quickly erode the enamel and lead to rampant tooth decay.  Milk and water are the best beverages to consume regularly.  Milk contains Calcium and helps to neutralize other acidic or sugary foods when consumed along with them.  Natural fruit juices are part of a healthy diet and are fine as long as they are drunk along with meals.
  5. A serious condition of rampant tooth decay commonly referred to as “baby bottle decay” can occur if infants and children are put to bed with a bottle that contains any liquid other than water.  Even a bottle of milk can contribute to decay because milk contains sugar enzymes that can break down into sugar alcohols.  During sleep the teeth are more vulnerable to decay because the saliva flow in the mouth is greatly decreased while resting.  The saliva not only helps to wash away food and bacteria particles from the tooth, but it also contains many minerals that help to mineralize the enamel. It is also not a good idea to dip a soother in honey or a sweet liquid as this can also contribute to decay of the front teeth.
  6. Eat desserts or other sugary snacks along with your meals or shortly thereafter, not in between.  The proteins, fats, and minerals present in a balanced meal help to neutralize the acidity created by sugary snacks. Another idea would be to eat a piece of cheese or a couple spoonfuls of non-sweetened yogurt after consuming a sweet snack.




  1. Children who have suffered from malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies in their early years, often have poorly formed enamel (Enamel Hypoplasia).  The malformed enamel is softer than regular enamel and can decay much more easily.  Children with Enamel Hypoplasia should have regular fluoride treatments.  These treatments can be in several forms.  There are fluoridated mouth rinses that they can rinse with daily.  After rinsing for one minute with the fluoride rinse, the child should spit it out completely (ingesting the rinse can be harmful and upset their stomach), and avoid eating or rinsing with water for a half hour after.  This allows the fluoride mineral to stick to the tooth longer and better strengthen the enamel.  There are also chewable fluoride tablets or gels that can be brushed on the teeth.
  2. Children with Enamel Hypoplasia should brush at least three times a day for two minutes each time.  It is also a good idea to floss regularly.  Flossing removes plaque that collects between the teeth – even the best tooth brushing cannot access the plaque between teeth.  It is extremely important that children with poorly developed teeth be kept plaque free as much as possible to minimize the chance of decay.  Also, it is important to brush with a fluoridated toothpaste.  Specialty toothpastes do exist that have an increased amount of fluoride.  These pastes are a good option for children who are more prone to decay.
  3. It is more crucial for children with Enamel Hypoplasia to avoid a regular diet of sweets, candies, soda, etc.  Regular consumption of dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt and some proteins from meats (if possible) will help to prevent or slow down the decay process.  Once a tooth begins to decay, however, even a healthy diet cannot restore or repair the area of damaged tooth structure.



7 Responses to “Preventing Tooth Decay Data Sheet by Joanna LiVecchi”

  1. Bernardo Alkins said

    In order for tooth decay to be developed in a tooth, that tooth must have acid producing bacteria around it, along with food for the bacteria to feed upon. Teeth that are susceptible to decay will have little to no fluoride in the enamel to fight the plaque. Fluoride can destroy decay, although it won’t be able to do much once the decay has started to eat the teeth…

    Most recently released write-up on our own web site

  2. I think this article is a bit misleading. Firstly, to suggest fluoride for fighting tooth decay is unjustified. Fluoride is a toxic substance which can be harmful to dental and general health. So how can it be beneficial to teeth? Read this article to know about hazards of fluoride
    Secondly I do not agree with the writer where she says in the end that “Once a tooth begins to decay, however, even a healthy diet cannot restore or repair the area of damaged tooth structure”. Now that is where dentists are wrong and they mislead the patient. It has been proven over the period of time that tooth decay is caused by poor nutrition and not bacteria. Diet lacking in vital nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and other minerals make teeth weak and susceptible to decay. However if this problem is rectified, that is if healthy nutrient dense diet is consumed regularly then decaying process of teeth can be reversed and teeth can be repaired. I gathered this valuable information from this book “Cure tooth decay” by Ramiel Nagel in which the author has described the causes of tooth decay in detail and has explained how nutrition affects our dental health. He has given a nutritional program which promises prevention and reversal of tooth decay. Visit this website for more information

    • I understand your concerns Nadya. I realize that the whole topic of fluoride treatments and especially fluoridated water is very controversial. I agree that fluoride when administered in high doses can have harmful effects on the body and even enamel, such as fluorosis. It is important to keep in mind how the fluoride is being administered. It can be delivered systemically (as through fluoridated water) or topically. Topical application of fluoride can be in many forms. It can be in a mouthrinse that is expectorated, a varnish, fluoridated toothpaste, or a gel that is swabbed on the teeth for 1 minute and then spit out. Topical application of fluoride is the most effective way to remineralize the enamel. If applied properly by a dental professional (we always supervise the child and have a suction in place to prevent swallowing) the fluoride is only absorbed by the dental tubules of the enamel. It is important to consider the risk versus reward factor of fluoride. In the dental community, we see children with decay regularly. Tooth decay not only has severe oral consequences but overall general health implications. If decay is rampant, it can lead to oral pain, discomfort, abscesses, and infection. Fluoride is perhaps the single most effective agent in preventing decay and remineralizing the incipient lesions (when the enamel begins to wear down). When communities chose to remove fluoride from the water, the incidence of decay in children always rises. There are countless studies done by public health to support this. There is a lot of research currently being conducted into other alternatives for fluoride. You might find it interesting to read up about xylitol. Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that is found in many fruits. It not only does not cause decay, but actually helps to inhibit decay and remineralize enamel. Many health food stores now carry xylitol based gum and lozenges. You can also buy it in powder form and add water to it making an anti-cavity rinse. Perhaps as more studies and research is done, xylitol will become the anti-cavity preventive agent of choice. I have already begun recommending xylitol to my patients. For now though, until enough research is available to support other alternatives as being equally or more effective than fluoride, I would still continue to recommend fluoride treatments for children at high risk for decay.

      I agree with you that diet and nutrition play a very important role in the tooth decay process. I wrote another article on the importance of a balanced diet in maintaining oral health. That article is also available on our blog. It is true that a diet high in vitamins, minerals and proteins can prevent enamel abnormalities and decay. However, enamel, unlike other tissues or organs cannot be repaired once the decay process has begun. This is not only true for decay, but also applies to enamel abnormalities caused by rickets and vitamin deficiencies. Once the enamel is formed, it cannot be altered. A healthy balanced diet high in calcium, magnesium and other minerals will definitely help to prevent the malformed enamel from decaying, but it cannot reverse the damage. That being said, if a child presents with an incipient lesion (the early stage of decay when the enamel has started to soften, but the decay has not progressed to the dentin), the enamel can be remineralized. The key is to keep the tooth clean and avoid sugar. Human saliva contains many important minerals. The saliva acts as protection against decay and remineralizes any incipient lesions. Foods high in calcium such as milk, cheese and other dairy products are beneficial to consume. You are correct that diet plays a large role in oral health and that vitamins and minerals found in foods, do help to remineralize the enamel and prevent decay. I am simply stating that once decay has progressed beyond the incipient stage, it can no longer be reversed or treated by diet. That is why good nutrition is so vital. It is important to prevent decay and strengthen enamel before any damage occurs.

      Joanna LiVecchi, R.D.H.

      For further information please visit the following web address:

  3. Good day! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading through
    your articles. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same
    topics? Thanks a ton!

    • Hello and thank you for reading and commenting on our blog! There are actually quite a few sites which provide data on orphaned children, their medical needs, etc. Do you have a topic on which you wish to focus? I am assuming you have an interest on dental issues, on which our dental director Joanna Livecchi is very well informed and am certain she would be happy to answer any questions you may have. We look forward to hearing back from you!

  4. I’m not sure where you’re getting your information, but great topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding
    more. Thanks for magnificent information I was looking for this information for my mission.

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