The chewing surfaces of your teeth have grooves, pits, and fissures that are very susceptible to decay. A sealant is a thin, slightly runny plastic coating applied over these grooves, pits, and fissures. It creates a smoother, easier surface to clean, thereby helping to prevent tooth decay.
This is especially useful for children and teenagers, and it can be applied once the permanent molars come in.
Sealants are applied by the dentist, hygienist or certified dental assistants. They do not require anesthesia and takes only a few minutes.
The teeth must first be cleaned. The grooves are then etched to help the sealant bond to the teeth. The etchant is rinsed off after 20 seconds and the sealants painted on. They harden using a special light.
Good oral habits and a healthful diet will increase the life of sealants.
Fluoride, in low levels, inhibits the breakdown of teeth. It also helps with remineralization of teeth by attracting calcium and phosphate back into the tooth. It assists in strengthening teeth that are developing, as well as, those that have already erupted.
Fluoride is recommended if you have poor oral habits, inadequate saliva that is causing dry mouth, a history of decay, a poor diet including frequent sugar intake, sensitive teeth, and exposed root surfaces.
Fluoride can be given topically or ingested. Topical fluoride is present in drinking water, toothpaste, and varnishes. It is typically recommended and applied to children after their cleanings twice a year. Ingested or systemic fluoride is found in our drinking supply and some food. It can be prescribed by your dentist as a supplement for children if fluoride is inadequate.
Too much fluoride is not good. It can cause a condition called fluorosis which causes white spots on the teeth.