It’s no secret that everyone wants a great smile. It’s also no secret that even though folks want great smiles, not all of them do a great job taking care of their teeth. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 Americans has one or more untreated cavities. It’s also been found that more than 40% of adults aged 30 or older have some form of periodontal disease.
One of the most severe side effects of poor oral health is tooth decay. This is simply the destruction of tooth enamel, which can be broken down over time by the bacteria in plaque. This plaque produces acids that attack a person’s tooth enamel. Cavities and other signs of tooth decay may be subtle, but overtime tooth decay can lead to some serious issues.
To prevent tooth decay, dentists recommend following these tips:
- Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Floss regularly
- Eat balanced, nutritious and try to limit snacking
- Consult with a dentist about supplemental aids such as fluoride and dental sealants
- Be sure to get a regular cleaning at the dentist
Let’s take a closer look at dental sealants. These sealants essentially act as a barrier that protects teeth from the plaque bacteria that causes tooth decay. Typically, sealants are applied to the back teeth on the chewing surfaces where decay is most likely to form.
If you’re wondering how a sealant actually helps prevent tooth decay, here’s what you need to know: sealants are made of a plastic material (resin) that is applied to the chewing surfaces of premolars and molars (the back teeth). The sealant resin then bonds into the grooves of the teeth and acts as a barrier. It’s true that brushing and flossing on a regular basis can do a lot to help prevent tooth decay, but it’s not 100% effective. The fact is that the bristles of a toothbrush can’t reach some tooth surfaces to get rid of plaque and food buildup. This is where sealants can be very helpful.
Thankfully, dentists can easily apply sealants and each tooth a sealant is applied to can be sealed up in a matter of minutes. Dentists will clean the teeth that need to be sealed and then roughen the chewing surfaces of those teeth with a solution to help the sealant adhere. Sealants are then “painted” on to teeth where they can bond to the teeth via the grooves. Sealants can actually last for several years before reapplication is necessary and they hold up very strong against the force of everyday chewing.
If you’re thinking you need supplements like sealants or more involved dental work such as crowns, fillings and root canals, it’s best to talk to your dentist about what the best plan is for your oral health. It’s best to follow the general dental care tips mentioned above, but be sure to also talk to your dentist if any serious arise with your teeth.