Fluoride and Sealants

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Fluoride

  • Fluoride promotes the remineralization of a tooth. Fluoride has been found to enhance the tooth remineralization process. Fluoride found in saliva will absorb onto the surface of a tooth where demineralization has occurred. The presence of this fluoride is turn attracts other minerals (such as calcium), thus resulting in the formation of new tooth mineral.
  • Fluoride can make a tooth more resistant to the formation of tooth decay. The new tooth mineral that is created by the remineralization process in the presence of fluoride is actually a “harder” mineral compound than existed when the tooth initially formed. Teeth are generally composed of Hydroxyapatite and carbonated hydroxyapatite. Fluorapatite is created during the remineralization process when fluoride is present and is more resistant to dissolution by acids (demineralization).



  • Fluoride can inhibit oral bacteria’s ability to create acids. Fluoride decreases the rate at which the bacteria that live in dental plaque can produce acid by disrupting the bacteria and its ability to metabolize sugars. The less sugar the bacteria can consume, less acidic waste which will be produced and participate in the demineralization process.

Sealants

  • Our teeth are covered with sticky film of bacteria, called plaque (sounds like PLAK). When we eat or drink anything that contains sugar- such as cookies, candy, soda, juice, or sports drinks – bacteria turn the sugar into acids that can attack tooth enamel. Over time, these attacks may cause tooth decay, or cavities. The good news is that there is a way to protect teeth and prevent decay dental sealants.

How are sealants applied?

Sealants are easy to apply. It takes only few minutes to seal each tooth. First, the tooth is cleaned and the chewing surfaces are prepared to help the sealant stick to the tooth. Then the sealant is painted onto the chewing surface where it bonds to the tooth and hardens. A special light may be used to help sealant harden. Sealants are generally clear or white and cannot be seen when you smile or talk.

How long do sealants last?

Sealants usually last several years before they need to be replaced. Over time, sealants can become loose worn. Then they may not protect the teeth as well. Chewing on ice or hard foods can also break down sealants. During regular dental visits, your dentist will check your sealants and reapply them if needed.

How else can I protect teeth from decay?

Sealants protect only the chewing surfaces of teeth. Good care of the teeth at home along with regular exams and cleaning at the dentist’s office are important. These good habits stop decay from forming in between the teeth – spots that sealants cannot cover.

Who should get sealants?

Sealants are most often placed in children and teenagers, since tooth decay can start soon after teeth come in. But adults can sometimes benefit from sealants too, because you never outgrow the risk for developing cavities.

A sealant can be placed on a tooth that does not have a cavity in its pits and grooves. If a tooth is stained or has mild decay, you dentist may suggest you get sealant, or another option may be necessary. If tooth has more advanced decay, it will need a filing.

Prevention is always better than treatment.

Sealants are very useful in preventing tooth decay on the back teeth and can save patients money over time. Your dentist can make sealants part of your plan for healthy mouth.

Why are sealants needed?

Tooth decay often begins on chewing surfaces of the back teeth. These surfaces have pits and grooves that trap plaque, bacteria, and bits of food. The pits and grooves are hard to keep clean, because toothbrushes bristles cannot reach into them.

That is how decay starts in the pits and grooves and cavities form. To keep decay from starting here, the dentist may recommend dental sealants.

How do sealants work?

A dental sealant is plastic material (resin) applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant material flows into the teeth pits and grooves min the teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel by sealing out plaque, bacteria, and food.

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