Dental sealants act as a barrier to prevent cavities. They are a plastic material usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where decay occurs most often.
Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from the smooth surfaces of the teeth, but toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.
Sealants are very easy for your child’s dentist to apply. The sealant is painted onto the tooth enamel where it bonds directly and hardens. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids. As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay.
Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and may last several years before a reapplication is needed. During your child’s regular dental visits, their dentist will check the condition of the sealants and reapply them when necessary.
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in all water sources, including oceans, lakes, and rivers. Research has shown that fluoride helps prevent cavities in children and adults by making the teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that cause cavities. Fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter, helping repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay can be seen.
There are two ways that you can benefit from fluoride: topically and systemically.
Topical fluoride is the type you receive at the dental office or when you use dental products such as toothpaste or mouth rinses. Systemic fluoride is ingested, usually through a public water supply, which in the United States applies to nearly 74% of the population.
While teeth are forming under the gums, the fluoride taken in mostly from drinking water and other beverages strengthens the tooth enamel, making it stronger and more resistant to cavities. This provides what is called a “systemic” benefit. After the teeth erupt, fluoride then helps rebuild (remineralize) weakened tooth enamel and reverse the early signs of tooth decay.
In addition, drinking fluoridated water and other fluoridated beverages will also provide a topical benefit because it becomes part of your saliva, constantly bathing the teeth and helping to rebuild weakened tooth enamel. The maximum reduction in tooth decay occurs when fluoride is available both systemically and topically. Studies show that community water fluoridation, the addition of fluoride to water to a recommended level, prevents at least 25% of tooth decay in children and adults. In fact, community water fluoridation is noted as the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has proclaimed it as “one of the 10 great public health achievements.”
The American Dental Association and more than 100 other national and international organizations recognize the public health benefits of fluoridated water in preventing tooth decay.
To schedule your child’s next dental appointment, please call 972-492-6700.