Keep tooth decay at bay

What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth make acid which then dissolves the tooth. Bacteria only produce this acid when they’re exposed to sugar.

How can I avoid it?

  • Brush and floss your teeth regularly and carefully to reduce the amount of bacteria on your teeth. You should brush your teeth with a small, soft toothbrush at least twice a day.
  • Be careful with how often you eat sugary foods or have sugary drinks.
  • Rinse your mouth with water after having sugary food or drink.
  • Have a small amount of cheese after sugary food or drink. This will help to neutralise the acid produced by bacteria.
  • Chew sugarless chewing gum, which may help protect your teeth by stimulating extra saliva. Saliva is very important in protecting teeth from decay.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste. This will make the surfaces of teeth more resistant to acid. The fluoride in the Australia water supply strengthens the developing teeth of babies and children.

What do I do if a tooth is knocked out?

If it’s clean, place it straight back in its socket

If it’s dirty, wash it in milk – if you don’t have any milk handy, use water but only for a few seconds

Do NOT scrub the root surface, and try not to touch the root

Remove any dirt and try to put the tooth back in its socket

If you can’t put it back in, wrap the tooth in plastic wrap or store it in milk

Get yourself and the tooth to a dentist immediately

To find a dentist, or for more information about your dental health, head to the Australian Dental Associations’ website at

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