Tufts OpenCourseware
Authors: John Morgan, Bonnie F. Zimble

Preventive Care in Special Care Dentistry:

Fundamental Oral Health Care Practices

Special Care in Dentistry
John Morgan, DDS
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, 2008

Study Question:

  1. Describe six fundamental oral care practices.

Fundamental Oral Health Care Practices*

The following traditional and widely accepted measures have been conclusively shown to be effective in reducing dental diseases. These practices should be the “first line of defense” in any oral health regimen. They include: 

  • Effectively remove bacterial plaque using a soft manual or mechanical toothbrush. Use dental floss also if possible.

  • Use fluoridated toothpaste accepted by the Council on Dental Therapeutics of the American Dental Association.

  • Apply toothpaste twice daily for 2 minutes. For some people with special needs it may be beneficial to remove plaque outside of the bathroom using only a moistened toothbrush and apply toothpaste as a separate step. When gingivitis is present, use toothpaste that also contains an approved anti-gingivitis agent. Note that if an individual’s disability prevents them from rinsing or spitting, a fluoride rinse and/or anti-gingivitis rinse can be substituted. Apply with a toothbrush at least twice daily.

  • Use fluoridated water daily for drinking and cooking. If the community water supply is not adequately fluoridated, use bottled fluoridated water.

  • Adopt a healthy diet—reduce intake of fermentable carbohydrates

  • Get regular professional oral care, including use of professionally applied topical fluoride and sealants.

* Portions of the following materials were adapted from: Glassman, P., Anderson, M., Jacobsen, P., Schonfeld, S., Weintraub, J., White, A., Gall, T. Hammersmark, S., Isman, R., Miller, C.E., Noel, D., Silverstein, S. & Young, D. (2003). Practical protocols for the prevention of dental disease in community settings for people with special needs: The protocols. Special Care Dentistry, 23(5):160-4.