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DENTAL SEALANTS  

What are dental sealants?

Dental sealants are thin, plastic films painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth - molars and premolars and are highly effective in the prevention of tooth decay (caries and cavities). Dental sealants are particularly effective on the back teeth, as the back teeth contain more hard-to-reach pits and grooves that serve as a host to food debris and plaque build-up.

How effective are dental sealants?

Because the sealants act as a physical barrier to decay and plaque build-up, in most cases, they provide 100 percent protection - with the most important variable being how well the dental sealant adheres to the teeth. In addition, research has shown that sealants actually stop cavities when placed on top of a slightly decayed tooth. This action seals off the supply of nutrients to the bacteria that causes the cavity. The dental sealant becomes ineffective when all or part of the bond between the tooth and the sealant is broken.

Who are likely candidates for dental sealants?

Sealants are especially beneficial for children because their newly erupted, permanent teeth are most susceptible to cavities and least benefited by fluoride. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sealants should be used as part of a child's total preventive dental care. A complete preventive dental program includes use of sealants, fluoride, plaque removal, careful food choices, and regular dental care. However, patients of all ages can benefit from dental sealants.

In addition, sealants help to maintain the health of teeth. Each time a tooth is filled due to tooth decay, additional tooth structure is lost. According to the Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention (CDC), fillings last an average of six to eight years, after which time they need to be replaced. Therefore, sealants often save time, money, and reduce the discomfort associated with dental treatment procedures.

What does the procedure involve?

The procedure starts with cleaning the surface of the tooth, rinsing the surface to remove all traces of the cleaning agent, and drying the tooth. A solution or gel is applied to the surface of the tooth, including the pits and grooves, to make the surface of the tooth rough. After several seconds, the solution is thoroughly rinsed away with water and the site is dried. The liquid sealant is then applied and allowed to harden.with proper oral hygiene, sealants may last five to 10 years.

Fluoride treatment of teeth

Fluoride is a commonly occurring element. In some areas, it is found as a naturally occurring substance in water. In others, it is added to the water supply, although, in large parts of the country there is no available Fluoride in drinking water. It is also found in tea and many common foodstuffs. In addition, higher concentrations of Fluoride are found in toothpaste, dental mouthwashes, and even dental floss.

Fluoride reacts with the outer enamel layer covering the tooth. Through this reaction it is incorporated into the enamel structure, thus doing, it strengthens the enamel. The tooth is therefore less susceptible to acid and bacterial attack.

Fluoride is not only used as a tooth hardening agent it can also be used in certain circumstances to alleviate tooth sensitivity. It is commonly incorporated into dental filling materials to help harden the underlying tooth and prevent sensitivity after a filling is placed. Of course, it is possible to place Fluoride-free dental fillings.

In some cases, children are given Fluoride supplements to strengthen their adult teeth whilst they are developing and when they erupt .

Fluoride supplements should only be given on the advice of a dental professional.

Our clinic does use Fluoride as an adjunct to prevent dental decay. However, we do recognise that some people have concerns regards the use of Fluoride and we are sensitive in such cases.

This is a part of Dentistry that is often neglected. In many ways it is the most important element of your dental treatment. The aim is to get you to clean your teeth and mind your diet in such a fashion as to prevent dental disease in the future.

Cleaning your teeth properly is actually very difficult. It is not possible to remove all plaque residues by simply brushing your teeth twice a day. It is important to floss your teeth regularly. In addition, numerous dental aids are available which help remove dental plaque in difficult to reach areas. These include; inter-dental brushes, inter-space brushes and various electronic aids such as rotary and sonic toothbrushes (which are proven to remove higher levels of plaque in certain situations), the water-pik, and various other gadgets.

Dental decay is caused by bacteria digesting sugar and turning it into acid. It is therefore important to limit ones exposure to refined sugars and acids to prevent cavities from developing. This is especially important at an early age when long-lasting habits are picked up.

Most oral hygiene and dietary advice is given by our Dental Hygienist. It is specifically tailored to each individual and monitored and reassessed at regular intervals. We are aware that due to the pressures of a busy lifestyle it is not always possible to follow dental advice to the letter and offer ongoing support and assistance.