Tooth decay can be painful and it can also lead to many hours spent lying in a dentist’s chair having fillings, root canal treatments and dental crowns done to treat damaged teeth. As well as taking a lot of time to fix tooth decay, it can also be very expensive, depending on the nature of the dental work you will need.
Like most illnesses, the best way to cure tooth decay is to take preventative steps to protect your teeth. Tooth decay occurs when the germs in your mouth combine with the sugars in food to create acids which then eat away at your teeth, resulting in cavities (or holes) in your teeth.
One way of preventing this acid damaging your teeth is to ensure that you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Often, though, this is not enough and you will need to use a dental sealant to prevent tooth decay.
The most at risk teeth in your mouth are the molars – the teeth located towards the back of the mouth. These teeth are more likely to decay, as they often receive less attention from the toothbrush and more attention from the acids.
A dental sealant acts as a protective barrier on the teeth by being bonded onto the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This barrier covers the depressions and grooves of the teeth, thus protecting them from the cavity causing acids.
These depressions and grooves need help in fighting the acids, as it is difficult to clean them and a toothbrush cannot always reach into the deepest grooves. By forming a protective barrier, the dental sealant makes it almost impossible for food particles and acid to enter these grooves.
The great news is that dental sealants can work for up to five years, thus the back teeth can benefit from this added barrier working to protect them for a long time. Once the protection period is over, it is possible to re-apply the sealant to provide ongoing protection for your teeth.
The use of sealants to protect teeth is not a new practice; it has actually been used since the early 1960s. In the majority of cases sealants are applied to young children in order to provide protection for the baby (or milk) teeth. It is important to ensure a healthy life for the baby teeth, so that when the permanent teeth come through they are also healthy and in the right position.
We like to think of sealants as being like a bulletproof vest, as it stops the dangerous acids from reaching the teeth thus keeping them healthy and strong.