Posts for tag: sealants
If you were to look closely at many of your teeth, you would notice deep, natural grooves in the enamel surface. Often referred to as “pits and fissures,” these are some of the most difficult places in the mouth to keep clean. Toothbrush bristles simply can't reach deep enough into them to be effective; what's more, their warm, moist environment is the perfect breeding ground for bacterial growth. Consequently, pits and fissures are the most common location for tooth decay.
Children are especially susceptible — pits and fissures account for 43% of tooth decay in patients between the ages of six and seven. This is because when children's teeth erupt (first become visible in the mouth) the new enamel is more permeable and less resistant to decay than older teeth. Until the enamel matures, the risk for decay remains high.
Fortunately, in recent years there has been a decrease in the occurrence of tooth decay among children. Better hygiene practices, fluoride products and fluoridated drinking water, better nutrition, and regular dental visits are all factors in this improvement. One development in particular provides children an extra layer of protection — the use of sealants on the tooth surfaces.
Sealants are protective coatings applied to tooth surfaces, especially in pits and fissures that act as a barrier between bacteria and the immature enamel. Although the degree and extent of sealant use varies across the profession, many dentists recommend sealant application in children for all permanent molars and many primary molars soon after eruption.
The accessibility of regular dental care also plays a factor — those who have no or limited access (and thus are at high risk for tooth decay) may benefit from sealants on all of their back teeth, while children with regular care access (low risk) may need only a few. In fact, some dentists only recommend sealants in low-risk children when tooth decay is already present and after first removing as much decay as possible.
The goal, of course, is to prevent decay, or reduce its effects, in children. Sealants can help, but only when coupled with other measures — and a good habit of oral hygiene.
If you would like more information on sealants for children's teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sealants for Children.”
The eruption of your child's first permanent teeth is a milestone in his or her development. As parents, you want to help your child preserve and protect their new permanent teeth so that they can last a lifetime. Dental sealants are one easy, simple, and inexpensive way to protect them from decay.
How do cavities develop?
The back teeth (premolars and molars) are formed with deep grooves on their biting surfaces that we call “pits and fissures.” These crevices are too deep for toothbrush bristles to reach. Bacteria can therefore grow and thrive inside them. The acid produced by these bacteria begins to dissolve the tooth enamel, starting the decay process.
Are new teeth more vulnerable?
Yes, the enamel surface of newly erupted teeth is more permeable and less resistant to tooth decay. As the enamel matures, it becomes more resistant.
How can you prevent decay in these new teeth?
Good oral hygiene habits, nutrition (including low sugar consumption), together with fluoride, sealants, and regular dental visits strengthen the teeth and can dramatically reduce tooth decay.
How does fluoride protect these teeth?
Fluoride makes the enamel surface harder and more impermeable and, therefore, less susceptible to acid attack and decay. Fluoride adds some protection to the deep pits and fissures of the teeth but they are still at high risk because of their shape and they often need further protection.
What are sealants and how do they work?
Sealants are protective coatings placed in the tiny pits and fissures to seal them from the bacteria and acids that promote decay. They actually “seal” the pits and fissures to prevent decay and can be used in the treatment of very early decay by arresting it. Greater use of sealants could reduce the need for subsequent treatment and prolong the time until treatment may become necessary.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about dental sealants for your children. You can learn more about them by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sealants for Children.”