• Prevention;
  • dental caries;
  • salivary dysfunction;
  • risk assessment


Although the prevalence of dental caries has decreased gradually in the past three decades in the Australian population, dental caries remains the primary reason for tooth loss in Australia. At the communicy level, total health expenditure on the treatment of dental caries (and its consequences) is substantial. Accordingly, caries prevention is an important focus on both the individual and community levels. This paper outlines the principles upon which modern caries prevention is based and stresses the importance of manipulating the oral environment (in terms of salivary parameters, ions, pH and the oral flora) as a major strategy for effective long-term caries prevention. Practical advice is provided on the correct home use of preventive agents, including chewing gums, chlorhexidine, fluorides, bicarbonate rinses and phosphopeptides.