Dental Sealants & Fluoride
You might spend all day admiring those attractive front teeth, but your back teeth molars get the real work done. The chewing surfaces of your molar back teeth are rough and contoured with pits and grooves to help break down food. While brushing and flossing helps remove food and dental plaque from smooth tooth surfaces, properly cleaning these deep fissures on your molars can be much more difficult.
Luckily, dental sealants offer molars a safeguard from tooth decay. Made of plastic resin, these tooth sealants are applied to the grooves of premolars and molars to "seal out" cavity-causing bacteria and food.
When to Get Dental Sealants
Decay starts early in life, so dental sealants are generally placed on your teeth at a young age.
The first set of permanent molars usually erupts by age 6. Sealing these chewing surfaces soon after will help keep them healthy and protect them from cavities. Much later, second molars erupt during the rapid growth spurts of teenagers. These molars are just as vulnerable as the first, and the typical teenager will subject them to excessive sugar. The sooner these chewing surfaces can be sealed, the better.
Although dental sealants are usually applied early in life, adults at high risk of developing decay can also benefit from receiving them. Consult with your dentist to determine if tooth sealants are right for you.
Are you thirsty for dental health? If so, you'll be glad to learn how an ordinary glass of water can help to strengthen your teeth. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral so beneficial to your smile, many communities even add it to their water supply.
Water naturally contains a small amount of fluoride, as do some foods. Increasing this fluoride content creates a constant "treatment" to prevent tooth decay and rebuild weakened tooth enamel. Regular contact with these small doses helps maintain the surface and structure of your teeth.
The Function of Fluoride
Throughout the day, your teeth are exposed to acids that can break down enamel and lead to tooth decay -- fluoride helps inhibit these acids from attacking the tooth surface. More importantly, it helps restore the minerals that have been worn down and repair weak spots in the enamel. Fluoride is also especially beneficial for children because it becomes integrated with growing teeth and helps develop resistance to acids later in life.
Treat Your Teeth
In addition to the small amounts of fluoride you eat or drink, dentists recommend you brush with a fluoride toothpaste. At your regular checkups, your dentist will typically treat your teeth with a higher concentration of fluoride to protect your teeth year round. If needed, your dentist can also prescribe fluoride supplements or recommend a fluoride mouth rinse.