Fluoride Treatment & Sealants

Fluoride

Fluoride is the most effective agent available to help prevent tooth decay.  It is a mineral that is naturally present in varying amounts in almost all foods and water supplies.  The benefits of fluoride have been well known for over 50 years and are supported by many health and professional organizations.

 

Fluoride works in two ways:

 

Topical fluoride strengthens the teeth once they have erupted by seeping into the outer surface of the tooth enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay.  We gain topical fluoride by using fluoride containing dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels.  Dentists and dental hygienists generally recommend that children have a professional application of fluoride twice a year during dental check-ups.

 

Systemic fluoride strengthens the teeth that have erupted as well as those that are developing under the gums.  We gain systemic fluoride from most foods and our community water supplies.  If too much fluoride is consumed while the teeth are developing, a condition called fluorosis (white spots on the teeth) may result.

 

Although most people receive fluoride from food and water, sometimes it is not enough to help prevent decay.  Your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend the use of home and/or professional fluoride treatments for the following reasons:

  • Deep pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of teeth.

  • Exposed and sensitive root surfaces.

  • Fair to poor oral hygiene habits.

  • Frequent sugar and carbohydrate intake.

  • Inadequate exposure to fluorides.

  • Inadequate saliva flow due to medical conditions, medical treatments or medications.

  • Recent history of dental decay.

 

Remember, fluoride alone will not prevent tooth decay!  It is important to brush at least twice a day, floss regularly, eat balanced meals, reduce sugary snacks, and visit your dentist on a regular basis

Sealants

A sealant is a thin, plastic coating applied to the chewing surface of molars, premolars and any deep grooves (called pits and fissures) of teeth.  More than 75% of dental decay begins in these deep grooves.  Teeth with these conditions are hard to clean and are very susceptible to decay.  A sealant protects the tooth by sealing deep grooves, creating a smooth, easy to clean surface.

Sealants can protect teeth from decay for many years, but need to be checked for wear and chipping at regular dental visits.

 

Reasons for sealants:

 

  • Children and teenagers – As soon as the six-year molars (the first permanent back teeth) appear or any time throughout the cavity prone years of 6-16.

  • Adults – Tooth surfaces without decay that have deep grooves or depressions.

  • Baby teeth – Occasionally done if teeth have deep grooves or depressions and child is cavity prone.