Oral Care Basics

"With good oral hygiene and regular dental care, it is now possible for people to keep most of their natural teeth for their entire lifetime." - Michael S. McKay, DMD, MAGD

What is a sealant?

Sealants is a plastic material (resin) applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth - the premolars and molars. The resin bonds to the depressions and grooves (called pits and fissures) in the back teeth. A sealant is a barrier that protects tooth enamel from plaque and acids.

Tooth Decay 101

Tooth decay is an infection of the mouth caused by the bacteria Strep mutans. Although children are born without this bacterium it is soon transmitted through saliva from the parent. The strep bacteria break down sugars from the diet into two smaller sugars. One sugar is polymerized into a sticky gel (plaque/biofilm) that prevents saliva from washing bacteria or acid off the tooth surface.

The other sugar is metabolized to acid, which then begins to demineralize and dissolve the tooth enamel, causing a cavity. The bacteria begin to produce tooth-destroying acid immediately and reach its peak acid-producing rate within 20 seconds after you eat sugar. The acid presists for 20 minutes.

The best way to protect the child from strep mutans infection is to treat the parents. Most often the infection is transmitted during the time before the child develops his or her own antibodies (around age 2) and while the mother's antibodies are diminishing. If this tranmission of dilsease can be delayed until the child's oral micro flora and immunoglobulin are well established the strep infection will be less dominant. the dental science community is presently testing a vaccine for tooth decay in humans.

How do we treat it?

Strep bacteria can penetrate deep into the pits and fissures of the back teeth, but toothbrush bristles are too large to access these tight spots to clean them effectively. We recommend placing pit and fissure sealants, a plastic resin material that seals over the pits and fissures and prevents bacteria from attacking these sites and causing decay.

Smooth surface decay between the teeth and along the gumline can be prevented or reduced with regular use of dental floss and fluoride. Fluoride and salilva (which is supersaturated with calcium salts) are also helpful in remineralizing tooth structure which has already begun to break down if the demineralization has not yet reached the inner dentin. We can easily fabricate fluoride trays made from a thin-gauge flexible plastic for you to assist in daily home fluoride treatments.

Read more about tooth decay and how to prevent it here
Call us for an appointment at 848-3262.