Young child playing using a large toothbrush to brush a mouth model while wearing an apron

3 Ways World Cavity-Free Future Day Can Promote Caries Prevention

Date: October 12, 2018

Author: Ryder Waldron

World Cavity Free-Future Day (WCFF Day) is celebrated every October, and it provides an important and unique opportunity for dental professionals to inspire their patients to take action to prevent dental caries. WCFF Day was started in 2016 by the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future, a growing global community of patients, dental and other health professionals, families, public policy experts, and other stakeholders, including Colgate-Palmolive to raise global awareness about caries prevention and management.

Dental professionals can use this annual global initiative in their own offices to help raise caries awareness among their patients young and old. Check out these three ways that WCFF Day can inspire patients to act on caries prevention and better oral health.

1. Scheduling Time for Oral Health Care

WCFF Day is the perfect occasion for dental professionals to emphasize to their patients how preventable cavities are with improved oral hygiene and a healthy diet. Since what a patient may see as "just a filling" is actually the progression of the world's most common chronic disease, it can be helpful to let them know — or remind them — that prevention is in their hands.

The excuses I hear most often from patients are that they either forget to brush and floss or just don't have the time. How can you help your patients find ways to make time for good oral hygiene habits? Suggest that they set an alarm on their cellphone to help them remember, and that they brush with a fluoride toothpaste at the same two times every day, first thing in the morning and just after they watch the nightly news before bed. You can also suggest that they floss once per day at the same time as brushing in the evening. Explain that if they commit as little as 10 minutes a day to good oral health care, that they may save many hours in the dental chair over time.

2. Cutting Down on Energy Drinks and Sodas

Energy drinks and sodas (other than diet sodas) are a major source of added sugars for many children and adults. High sugar intake may lead to dental caries and other health problems like obesity and diabetes.

WCFF Day is a good chance to use measured sugar in bowls in your waiting room to show patients how much sugar they are actually consuming. For example, one 500 ml energy drink can contain up to 7 tablespoons of sugar, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. You can show this amount of sugar in a clear measuring cup on a demonstration table for all patients to see as they enter your office.

Another option is to display extracted teeth that have been soaked in an energy drink or soda. This shows the effect of the acidic pH of the drink, rather than the effect of sugars, but it does let patients visualize another type of damage these drinks can cause.

Simple visual representations like these are eye-opening and may encourage patients to cut down on sugary and acidic beverages.

3. Preventive Action for Higher-Risk Patients

Focusing on preventive action is important for all dental patients, but those considered at a higher risk for caries often need a more individualized approach. For many patients, I like to recommend cavity protection toothpaste. It strengthens teeth with active fluoride and fights cavities. Patients at increased risk for caries can benefit from additional fluoride in the form of in-office treatments with varnish, and additional fluoride use at home, such as fluoride rinses or prescription-level fluorides.

Dental professionals should also emphasize the importance of regular caries risk assessments for adults and children, even when patients don't think they have any problems. Just as with high blood pressure, there are very few, if any, symptoms of dental caries until the disease is advanced. Discuss the stages of caries with your patients to remind them of the importance of regular dental exams and the possibility of reversing the effects of decay before drilling becomes necessary.

World Cavity-Free Future Day is a special opportunity for dental professionals to spotlight caries prevention and assist their patients in a cavity-free future. Promote WCFF Day in your office and on your practice's social media accounts, and keep your own habit of promoting caries prevention every day of the year!