Preventive care in a dental office includes prophylaxis, or the cleaning of the teeth, which removes accumulations of calculus. It includes examination of the teeth and soft tissue, using visual and tactile exams, radiographic examination, such as x rays, and oral cancer screening. Newer techniques to diagnose periodontal, or gum disease, include computerized measurement devices that measure the bacterial content in the mouth. Sometimes, dentists prescribe medications to help prevent dental disease. These include anti-inflammatory mouthwashes to prevent periodontal problems.
Preventive procedures often performed by dentists for children include the use of fluoride supplements and applications. Dentists apply dental sealants to children’s teeth, forming a barrier between tooth crevasses and bacteria to help ward off dental decay. Dental health professionals also look for malocclusions, and might refer patients to a dental specialist, such as an orthodontist, to correct a patient’s bad bite. Experts state that children should be evaluated by an orthodontist by age seven.
What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are a plastic coating painted on the grooved, hard-to-reach surfaces of the back teeth. Pits and fissures on these surfaces are particularly susceptible to tooth decay. Dental sealants can be used to seal out cavity-causing bacteria from damaging the teeth.
How are dental sealants applied?
Dental sealants are quickly applied at Astoria Dental Group. One of our dentists prepares the chewing surfaces of teeth, then paints on the sealant. The sealant material bonds directly to the tooth and hardens with the aid of a special curing light. Dental sealants hold up well under the force of chewing, and they provide protection against cavities for about five years. During regular dental visits, one of our dentists will check the state of sealants and re-apply them if necessary.
How do dental sealants protect teeth?
Because fluoride is effective in preventing decay from forming on the smooth surfaces of teeth, and dental sealants protect the grooves of teeth, these treatments are best used in conjunction.
Dental sealants are particularly effective for protecting children’s teeth. The first permanent molars emerge when a child is about 6. A dental sealant treatment performed shortly after these first permanent teeth emerge protects the teeth from developing cavities. Another good time for applying sealants occurs when a child is about 12, when the second permanent molars emerge.
We may also recommend sealants for adults who are at a particularly high risk of tooth decay.