Most people understand that brushing and flossing are the basics of good oral hygiene, but general dentistry professionals say there is much more you can do to ensure your mouth remains healthy throughout your life. Strong teeth and gums allow you to communicate easily, enjoy good food, and avoid the pain and embarrassment associated with…
General Dentistry Solutions Using Dental Sealants
Dental patients can visit a general dentistry office for various preventative procedures that promote long-term oral health. For example, dental sealants can protect teeth susceptible to decay, and a dentist may recommend this treatment option for multiple reasons.
What are dental sealants?
Sealants are wafer-thin coatings of resin or plastic a dentist places over the chewing surfaces of back teeth to prevent cavities from decay-causing bacteria. The dentist brushes the liquid sealant over the surfaces of teeth, ensuring it gets into tight spaces and deep grooves. The liquid sealant hardens into a protective barrier that can last approximately five years.
When do dentists recommend sealants?
Molars and other teeth near the back of the mouth can collect food particles that mix with bacteria, leading to decay and other problems. Sealants are a standard general dentistry treatment for children and adults that a dentist may recommend under the following circumstances.
When teeth are prone to cavities
Children are excellent candidates for dental sealants after adult molars erupt, although dentists sometimes apply sealants to primary teeth. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, four out of five cavities in children's mouths occur in back teeth and are preventable with sealants. The chewing surfaces of back teeth have deep ridges and grooves that can trap food particles and bacteria, which are challenging to remove with a toothbrush. Children and adults who do not sufficiently clean the tight and deep ridges and grooves of back teeth may be excellent candidates for sealants.
When tooth enamel starts to wear away
Tooth sensitivity can result when the enamel and dentin layers covering a tooth or the cementum layer covering a root wear away due to rigorous brushing, grinding, and decay. As a result, patients may experience sharp pain while eating sweet, spicy, hot, and cold food. A dentist may treat this uncomfortable condition with sealants covering vulnerable teeth to avoid contact with anything that causes pain while chewing.
When a patient’s budget does not accommodate fillings
Sealants are a preventative procedure that costs a fraction of what fillings cost. Patients who do not have dental insurance or the resources to pay for restorative treatments can consider sealants to reduce the risk of tooth decay that requires a dentist to install fillings or perform other costly procedures.
When a patient’s mouth is chronically dry
Dentists typically ask about each patient's general health history to predict how a condition, illness, or medical treatment may affect oral health. For example, various medical conditions and medications can cause dry mouth by reducing saliva production. When patients' mouths do not have adequate saliva flow to carry away food particles on the teeth surfaces, the particles can combine with oral bacteria and cause cavities. A dentist may recommend sealants to prevent the adverse dental side effects of conditions that cause dry mouth.
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The primary goal of every dentist is to preserve a patients' natural teeth. Fortunately, general dentistry practices provide preventative care, including sealants, to prevent tooth decay and loss.
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