Fluoride & Dental Sealants
At Crossroads Family Dental, our main focus is to stop tooth decay and gum disease before it starts. Preventive dentistry is beneficial for patients of all ages, but especially children. Establishing a strong foundation for your child’s oral health can ensure a lifetime of strong, beautiful teeth. In addition to regular dental exams and professional cleanings, fluoride treatment and tooth sealants are an important part of preventive dentistry.
Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that can strengthen tooth enamel and reverse minor situations of decay. Every day, your enamel layer loses and gains minerals through two processes—demineralization and remineralization. During demineralization, acids produced by the bacteria found in plaque, attach the enamel and strip away minerals. Remineralization occurs when calcium, phosphate, and fluoride are redeposited into the enamel during the consumption of food and water. Tooth decay is the result of too much demineralization and not enough remineralization. Luckily, fluoride treatment can be used to supplement the process of remineralization and prevent decay.
There are two ways to receive fluoride—systemically and topically. Systemic fluorides are ingested through dietary supplants and fluoridated water. This type of fluoride strengthens your teeth from within. Topically fluorides are applied directly to your tooth enamel. Most toothpaste and mouthwashes contain fluoride, but professional treatments offer a higher and more effective concentration.
Children between the ages of six months and 16 years should be exposed to fluoride regularly. Research indicates that children exposed to fluoride have significantly less tooth decay than those who are not.
Professional fluoride treatments may be applied in the form of a varnish, gel, or foam. Varnishes are applied with a brush or swab. Gels and foams are placed in a tray and held in the mouth for several minutes. After the treatment, your child will be asked to abstain from rinsing, eating, or drinking anything for at least 30 minutes.
Dental sealants are another effective way to protect your child’s teeth. In fact, sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay in posterior teeth by nearly 80%. Sealants are plastic coatings that are placed on the occlusal, or bite surface, of the permanent molars and premolars. Permanent teeth usually erupt between the ages of six and 12. The earlier your child receives a sealant, the earlier their teeth are protected from damaging acids.
The application of a dental sealant is a quick and painless process. First, Dr. Nicholas Berns will clean and dry the tooth. Then, the sealant liquid will be applied to the bite plane. The goal is to protect the deep grooves that are difficult to clean with a regular toothbrush. Once the sealant is in place, we will use a special curing light to harden the material.
Dental sealants can last for many years before they need to be reapplied. Although it is less common, adults may also receive dental sealants. There is no substitute for daily brushing and flossing, but dental sealants can prevent cavity-causing bacteria from settling on your teeth. Talk with Dr. Nicholas Berns to see if sealants are right for you or your family!
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Call (219) 440-2950 to schedule your appointment today!