Good oral hygiene practice: essential for tooth decay prevention

Oral Hygiene
Oral Hygiene

Cavities are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of teeth that develop into tiny openings or holes. Cavities, also called tooth decay are caused by a buildup of bacteria in the mouth. It occurs when the teeth is not cleaned properly for bacteria not killed by the toothpaste to grow on the teeth.


According to oral health experts, poor oral hygiene can lead to dental cavities, oral cancers and others that can lead to poor health of the individual. Frequent snacking on sugary foods or drinks, inadequate cleaning of teeth and bedtime infant feeding can also affect the teeth.

An untreated cavity can lead to an infection in the tooth called a tooth abscess and untreated tooth decay also destroys the inside of the tooth (pulp). This requires more extensive treatment, or possibly removal of the tooth.

Cavities, if left untreated for too long can expose the more sensitive parts of teeth and can cause significant pain. They are the result of untreated tooth decay. Over time, this tooth decay can cause holes that go deep into the teeth but it can be prevented and even heal on its own with the right approach to oral hygiene.

Dentist can usually detect tooth decay by complains of tooth pain and sensitivity, examining the mouth and teeth, probing the teeth with dental instruments to check for soft areas or checking on a dental X-rays which can show the extent of cavities and decay.

Dentist are the best health personnel to detect or diagnose which of the three types of cavities one might be suffering from, be it smooth surface, pit and fissure or root.

According to the World Health Organization report on oral cavities indicates between 60 and 90 per cent of school children have at least one dental caries and nearly 100 per cent of adult have at least one dental caries, whilst between 15 and 25 per cent of Adults aged 35 to 44 years have severe gum diseases


Regular check-ups helps a lot to identify cavities and other dental conditions before they can cause troubling symptoms, which lead to more serious problems.

The treatment and options of recommended treatments of cavities depend on its stage and on the progression of tooth decay. Early stage of tooth decay can actually be reversed before more permanent damage occurs.

This can be achieved by treating the teeth with fluoride, that is brushing the teeth with fluoridated toothpaste at least twice a day to restore the tooth’s enamel and can sometimes reverse a cavity in the very early stages.

Fillings are used to treat cavity, a crown and at the worse stage tooth extractions, where the teeth become so severely decayed that they cannot be restored and must be removed to leave a gap that allows ones teeth to shift, but if possible, a dental implant can be considered to replace the missing tooth.

It is important to state that antibiotics may also be prescribed for treatment of an abscess, as they are medications that kill bacteria.
Common symptoms of dental problems are toothache, bleeding or swollen gingival after brushing.


Dr. Nana Yaa Dampare, a Dentist at the Sunyani Regional Hospital, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Sunyani that “dental and oral health is an essential part of one’s overall health safety and well-being”, saying it “is an irreversible microbial disease of the calcified tissues of the teeth, characterized by demineralization of the inorganic portion and destruction of the organic substance of the tooth, which often leads to cavitation”.

Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is a lifelong commitment, so the earlier one adopts the habit of proper oral hygiene such as brushing, flossing and limiting sugar intake, the better and easier to avoid costly dental procedures and long-term health challenges.

She stressed practicing good oral hygiene was an important part of preventing tooth decay, adding that can be achieved by routine teeth cleaning and oral examinations, brushing of teeth at least twice a day and after meals with fluoride tooth paste, limited consumptions of sweets, as well as rinsing the mouth immediately after eating, brushing the chewing surface of the molar teeth and the tongue.

When to see a Dentist

Dr. Dampare advised the public that one should not wait to have symptoms before a visit to the dentist, because if tooth decay was in its early stages, one might not experience any symptoms.

That is why regular visits to the dentist was so important because the dentist can help to identify and address the early stages of tooth decay and any other related oral health problem before the situation worsens, she said.


Dr. .Dampare observed that tooth decay affected the teeth due to the activities of bacteria present in dental plaque, adding that the bacteria converted sugars from foods into acids, which can go on to damage the teeth.

The Early stage is often reversible, but later stage can cause permanent damage to an affected tooth and advised that some potential cures include fluoride treatments, fillings and root canals.

Dr. Dampare asked the public to avoid opening bottle lids with their teeth to avoid getting fractured teeth and stated that if possible one must see a dentist twice in a year for early detections.

She said babies also, before reaching age one should be introduced to a dentist to check if his/her teeth was growing normal.

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