Dr. Thomas Clifton, Family Dentist

Dr. Clifton has been brightening the smiles of patients in the Durham, North Carolina area for over 20 years. He is proud to offer general dental care for the entire family, as well as cosmetic, endodontic, periodontic, and preventative treatments. You will find more information on common prevention care on this page, as well as helpful oral hygiene tips. For any other questions, or to make an appointment, contact our office and a team member will be happy to assist you!

Tooth Decay Prevention

Tooth decay is a progressive disease caused by the interaction of naturally occurring bacteria on the teeth and the sugar found in food. Sugar causes the bacteria to produce acids, which break down the mineral in teeth, forming a cavity. Dentists remove the decay and fill the tooth using a variety of fillings, restoring the tooth to a healthy state. Nerve damage can result from more severe decay, and may require a crown. Avoiding unnecessary decay is simple, and requires you to follow a dental hygiene regimen of brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental checkups, diet, and fluoride treatment. Good hygiene will help you avoid unhealthy teeth and costly treatment in the future.


Even proper brushing and flossing can miss some deeper grooves and depressions of the back teeth, allowing bacteria to react with food and break down the surface enamel. Recent studies indicate that this action is likely the cause of as much as 88 percent of total cavities in American school children.

Tooth sealants are designed to prevent bacteria and food particles from remaining in these hard to reach areas by sealing the grooves and depressions. The sealant material is a resin, typically applied to the back teeth, molars, premolars, and other areas prone to cavities. Sealants often last for several years with good care, and simply need to be checked during regular appointments.


Fluoride is a substance that helps strengthen teeth to become more resistant to decay. Regularly drinking water treated with fluoride and brushing and flossing regularly can ensure significantly lower cavity risk. Dentists may evaluate the level of fluoride in a primary drinking water source, and recommend fluoride supplements if necessary.

Thumb Sucking

Sucking is a natural reflex that helps relax and comfort babies and toddlers and usually stops as the permanent teeth begin to erupt, between ages 2 and 4. When thumb sucking extends beyond 4 years, it can cause improper growth of the mouth and misalignment of the teeth. If you notice prolonged or vigorous thumb sucking behavior in your child you should inform Dr. Clifton, who will then help you decide on the proper course of action.

Here are some great ways to help your child outgrow thumb sucking:

  • Don’t scold a child when they exhibit thumb-sucking behavior, instead, praise them when they choose not to suck their thumb.
  • Focus on eliminating the cause of anxiety – thumb sucking is a comfort device that children often use to cope with stress or discomfort.
  • Praise them when they refrain from the habit during difficult periods.
  • Place a bandage on the thumb or a sock on their hand at night to discourage thumb sucking.

Schedule An Appointment Today!

Thank you for choosing The Office of Dr. Clifton for your family and cosmetic dentistry needs. Our team is committed to providing our Durham, NC patients the best possible care. If you would like more assistance with preventative care, or are currently experiencing symptoms, please schedule an appointment as soon as possible. We look forward to helping you achieve a beautiful, healthy smile!

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9:00 am-5:00 pm


9:00 am-5:00 pm


9:00 am-5:00 pm


9:00 am-5:00 pm