Fluoride and Sealants
Cavities are a common oral health issue that affects millions of people. Even though they are common, they can be harmful if not treated right away. Cavities are caused by acid erosion, which occurs when the acids produced by plaque and oral bacteria are left to sit on the surfaces of your teeth. The erosion weakens your enamel, causing small pits, or cavities, to form. Without treatment, cavities only continue to grow larger, weakening the structure of your tooth and putting it at risk for a serious infection. Proper oral hygiene is essential for cavity prevention. For some, however, regular brushing and flossing are not enough, even with regular cleanings and exams. At Lake Sammamish Family Dentistry, we can help you to further prevent the formation of cavities with fluoride and sealants.
Fluoride is an important element that occurs naturally in your teeth. Every day, however, fluoride is lost from the teeth in a process known as demineralization. While it is lost, it can also be replaced. Fluoride is most often restored to the teeth through treated tap water as well as fluoridated oral care products. For many individuals, these methods of remineralization are enough to help keep the teeth strong and healthy. For others, however, the teeth still develop cavities, despite regular oral care. To help you further protect the health of your teeth and mouth, we can provide you with fluoride treatments. While commonly associated with children, fluoride treatments can be effective no matter what your age.
Fluoride treatments are generally applied during your regular 6-month cleanings, although they can be provided at any time. Following your cleaning, a fluoride gel is applied to the surfaces of your teeth. That is all there is to it. The gel does not need to be washed off or otherwise removed. It is, however, recommended that you do not eat or drink for 30 minutes after the application to ensure the best results. The fluoride in the gel is absorbed directly into the enamel of your teeth, where it goes to work remineralizing them. In remineralizing your teeth, your enamel is strengthened, and the teeth can more effectively fight off acid attacks by plaque and bacteria.
The chewing surfaces of your molars contain deep grooves and crevices. These areas are more easily able to trap food particles and bacteria, and they are also one of the most difficult areas to clean effectively. As a result, these areas are more susceptible to the development of decay and cavities. Sealants are a quick, easy treatment that helps to prevent cavities in these vulnerable areas of your teeth. Made up of plastic, sealants are applied over the crevices on the chewing surfaces of your molars. They are designed to prevent buildup as well as make the teeth easier to maintain.
Before the placement of sealants, any existing cavities need to be treated. The teeth are then cleaned. Acid etch applied to the surfaces of your molars. This acid works to create a rough texture on your enamel, which enhances the bond between the sealant material and your teeth. The acid is washed off, and the teeth are dried. Finally, the sealant material is applied and cured with a special light. Once cured, they begin providing immediate protection. When combined with regular oral hygiene practices, fluoride and sealants can help you to protect the health of your mouth by preventing the formation of cavities. For more information, and to find out if fluoride and sealants are right for you, call Lake Sammamish Family Dentistry today at (425) 270-1075.