This helps avoiding any future cavity formation and is usually performed on healthy non infected teeth. It includes Fluoride application and Pit and Fissue sealant placement.
Your child brushes her teeth twice a day, flosses regularly, and visits the dentist every six months. But did you know that rinsing with fluoride – a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay – also helps keep her teeth healthy and strong?
Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay by coating teeth and preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface.
Fluoride comes in two varieties, systemic and topical:
- Systemic fluoride is ingested, usually through a public water supply. While teeth are forming under the gums, the fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, making it stronger and more resistant to cavities.
- Fluoride can also be applied topically to help prevent caries (cavities) on teeth present in the mouth. It is delivered through toothpaste, mouthwash, and professional fluoride applications. Professional application of topical fluoride foam and varnishes is also a valuable tool in cavity prevention.
Sometimes brushing is not enough, especially when it comes to those hard-to-reach spots in your child’s mouth. It is difficult for a toothbrush to reach between the small cracks and grooves on teeth. If left alone, those tiny areas can develop tooth decay. Sealants give your child’s teeth extra protection against decay and help prevent cavities.
Dental sealants are a plastic resin that bonds and hardens in the deep grooves on the tooth’s surface. When a tooth is sealed, the tiny grooves become smooth, and are less likely to harbor plaque. With sealants, brushing becomes easier and more effective against tooth decay.
Sealants are typically applied to children’s teeth as a preventive measure after the permanent teeth have erupted. It is more common to seal “permanent” teeth rather than “baby” teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and the dentist will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis.
Sealants last from 8-10 years, although it is fairly common to see adults with sealants still intact from childhood. A dental sealant only provides protection when it is fully intact so if your child’s sealants come off, let the dentist know, and schedule an appointment for your child’s teeth to be re-sealed.
Pit and fissure sealants, for example, are one of several methods for staving off the decay that leads to dental caries. Even though pits and fissues do occur naturally, they can deepen over time, leading to dental caries, so a child whose teeth show signs of pits and fissures may be a prime candidate for dental sealants. Pits are small hollows that occur on the biting surfaces of permanent teeth, whereas fissures are grooves in the outside of the tooth’s surface. In both cases, these areas can easily fill with bacteria, which may be difficult to remove with regular oral hygiene.
As this bacteria grows, it interacts with the starches in the food you eat, turning them into acids that can eat away at tooth enamel. If this process causes enough decay, it eventually spreads to the inner pulp of the tooth. This can result in extremely painful and unsightly damage, which can cause lifelong dental problems.
How Sealants Work
Dental sealants work to coat and seal the grooves and hollows, preventing even the most the harmful bacteria from building up on the tooth. The size and depth of the hollows and grooves in your child’s teeth will determine whether he or she can benefit from the application of a sealant. These sealants are typically used on the molars and premolars at the back of the mouth, as these are the teeth that most frequently develop surface irregularities.
Evaluating Your Child
A thorough dental evaluation of your child’s new permanent teeth will determine whether or not they have pits and fissures and an increased risk exists for developing dental caries. Not all teeth that carry this condition require sealing, which is why a pediatric dentist can perform an analysis of these new teeth to see if it is necessary. Having identified if the pits and fissures are deep enough to warrant the application of a sealant, the dentist will give you this recommendation. Ultimately, however, it is up to the parent. You’ll know it’s urgent if you can see grooves and hollows on the surface of the back teeth.