Dental Sealants & Topical Fluoride Treatment
Dental SealantsSealants are used to help prevent tooth decay wherever deep grooves are found on the teeth. The natural grooves of these teeth can trap food and resist casual brushing and rinsing. If left in place, this allows bacteria to multiply, eventually causing tooth decay, which then requires a filling.
Sealants are applied directly onto the tooth where they seal the natural grooves to help prevent tooth decay. While sealants are durable, they can wear out. They generally last for years of use before needing to be touched up. Sealants offer a cost-effective, preventive step to reduce the chances of tooth decay. However, they do not replace the need for regular brushing and flossing.
Dental sealants image credit: Ivoclar Vivadent
Topical Fluoride TreatmentFluoride is a natural mineral that has been proven to strengthen teeth and reduce the incidence of tooth decay. The American Dental Association recommends topical fluoride treatment for children as soon as teeth emerge. This simple preventive measure of applying a fluoride varnish to a child's first teeth can strengthen teeth at risk for decay and create a tooth surface that is more resistant to decay.
Applying a fluoride varnish protects teeth from decay. Fluoride is applied twice a year after evaluating for need. Fluoride varnish works by repairing gaps in the tooth enamel, adding another layer of protection to prevent cavities.
Fluoride varnish is also effective at reducing sensitivity in adults when that sensitivity is due to recession, or the gums pulling back from the teeth. It helps plug passageways that, when open, trigger nerves to send the message of pain in the tooth.
Fluoride is easily applied to teeth. It dries almost immediately upon contact with clean dry teeth and will not be removed by saliva, which means that very little, if any fluoride is ingested. Applying fluoride is quick, painless, and often included in dental insurance coverage, but you will want to check with your provider to be certain.
Once children have their permanent teeth, dental sealants may be applied for additional the protection. Using both fluoride and sealants are effective ways to help prevent or slow down tooth decay.