Tooth decay, otherwise known as cavities, can be a significant problem for children as well as adults. There are numerous factors that lead to tooth decay such as the tooth location, type of food and drink consumed, inadequate brushing and not getting enough fluoride.
Everyone can benefit from a sealant application, but this procedure is especially valuable for children whose permanent molars and premolars have just come in.
A dental sealant is a thin, plastic film painted over the deep grooves and pits (usually in the back teeth) to extend tooth life and prevent cavities. This quick, painless procedure starts by first cleaning the tooth surface, after which a gel is applied to the surface of the tooth to make the tooth surface rough. This gel is left on the tooth for several seconds and rinsed away with water. After the site is dried, the liquid sealant is applied and hardened.
Sealant has been proven highly effective in protecting treated teeth against cavities. With proper application and adhesion, it is actually 100 percent effective. It will last for years under the pressure of normal chewing before a reapplication will be necessary. In fact, with proper oral habits, sealants can last up to 10 years.
Fluoride is a compound naturally found in soil, air and water. Everyone consumes it in food and water and breathes it in the air. This mineral absorbs into the tooth enamel and offers a number of benefits for teeth. Fluoride strengthens weakened enamel and protects teeth against cavities and the decay of tooth structures. It also helps gum disease and gum recession in adults, and it coats and insulates sensitive teeth.
While everyone is exposed to fluoride in day-to-day life, sometimes a boost of fluoride is helpful in maintaining the healthy teeth.
Children between the ages of six and 16 benefit most from fluoride treatments, but it is also beneficial to those who may be at an increased risk of tooth decay because of:
- dry mouth conditions
- gingivitis (gum disease)
- a history of frequent cavities (at least one every year or every other year)
- crowns, bridges and/or braces
A dentist-administered fluoride treatment contains higher levels of fluoride concentration than those found in topical toothpastes or mouth washes. The fluoride is painted on the tooth using a special varnish. The treatment stays on teeth for just a few minutes. For the first 30 minutes after a fluoride treatment, eating or drinking is not recommended.