The tooth decay process is activated every time we eat or drink. This is followed by a natural process that reverses or “heals” the damage. It is only when the decay process is greater than the healing process for a period of time that a cavity occurs. You can strengthen the healing process by brushing with fluoride toothpaste after every meal and using dental floss or another device to clean between your teeth every day. And you can weaken the decay process by not having between-meal snacks and limiting sugary drinks and foods. Your dentist or dentist’s staff can help too by applying special types of fluoride to the teeth, sealing any natural defects in the biting surfaces of your back teeth, testing your mouth bacteria to determine medications that can get rid of the decay-causing type, prescribing a specific mouthwash, and recommending certain foods and drinks. Unfortunately getting your teeth professionally cleaned periodically does little to directly prevent tooth decay because the time interval between these appointments is too long! On the other hand, excellence of your daily oral hygiene and limiting sugar-containing between-meal snacks directly prevent tooth decay. And, the periodic examination of your teeth plus routine teeth cleaning is very important because it provides the opportunity to re-assess your tooth decay risk, to determine how well you have been cleaning your teeth and to show you how to do it better, to apply fluoride to your teeth, to catch cavities when they are small, and to detect diseases other than tooth decay.