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Ann Ig. 1989 Jan-Apr;1(1-2):17-44.

[Current and future prospects concerning the prevention of dental caries].

[Article in Italian]


Caries is a disease which on the basis of numerous epidemiological data it should be possible to control. The preventive interventions which have proved to have the greatest effect on the diffusion of this disease are essentially: fluoroprophylaxis, oral hygiene, food hygiene and periodic dental examination. The common denominator, which has the greatest effect on success, is a good level of health education of the populations affected by the programme, with specific reference to the teeth. The importance of the diet as a possible element predisposing to caries is an ascertained fact by now, and in fact it is well known that the greatest cariogenic effect is achieved after eating foods containing large quantities of fermentable sugars at irregular intervals throughout the day, especially in the form of products of high density and viscosity. The proposal to replace sugar with substitutive sweeteners such as: xilitol, sorbitol, licasin, talin, palatinit and, more recently, aspartame does not completely solve the problem; and apart from this the clearcut reduction of caries achieved in different European and non-European countries does not appear to be directly connected with a drop in sugar consumption, while more and more importance is ascribed to individual food choices. Oral hygiene procedures aim not only at the cleaning of teeth but also, to some extent, controlling the bacterial plaque. For this reason these are sometimes included among anticaries interventions; however opinions differ in this regard, with a clear prevalence of negative views. The question changes radically if we combine with mechanical procedures alone the use of fluoride-based toothpastes, which are recognised, in combination with other interventions, as playing a fundamental role in the rapid decline of caries in industralised countries. Toothpaste is considered as an excellent vehicle for the topical application of fluoride since it comes into contact with the teeth is slight concentrations only (of about 20 p.p.m.) but at high frequency, the latter constituting a decisive factor for the success of prevention. Furthermore, especially in the case of small children, it acts not only topically but also at systemic level, since in fact part of the toothpaste is swallowed, with consequent passing of the fluoride into the circulation. Undoubtedly the most valid anticaries prophylaxis is fluoroprophylaxis which may be achieved following different methods. Fluoration of water is the most widespread form of administration of fluoride systemically and also the most appropriate since it supplies small but continuous doses of fluoride.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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