Most people get dental cavities at some point in their life, luckily this is a common problem that can easily be prevented. Tooth decay can create extensive dental damage, not only causing the need for expensive restorations and root canals, but also tooth loss which leads to more complicated situations like distorted facial appearance.
Prevention by brushing and flossing cannot be emphasized enough, but an extra preventive method is having dental sealants and fluoride applications.
A sealant is a thin layer of dental material placed on the surface of teeth, covering the natural pits and fissures. When we chew on foods, some of this debris stays on the tooth. However, if a sealant has been previously placed, the tooth surface is not retentive anymore, and the debris is more easily washed away.
Dental sealants are composites, similar to the resin material used for fillings, except that a sealant has a lower viscosity and therefore, it flows when it is applied on the surface of the tooth. They can be white or transparent, so they are hardly noticeable.
Who is a good candidate for dental sealants?
1. Children: Children usually eat a lot of sweets and fail to brush their teeth often, or brush improperly.
2. People with high risk of cavities: Some people get cavities easier than others, especially if there are other teeth affected, because it is the same bacteria that produces acids that are responsible for tooth decay.
3. People with motor disabilities: When brushing properly is not possible, preventive measures must be taken, and sealants are a great option.
4. Individuals with very deep pits and fissures on their teeth: Some teeth have deformities that can be corrected by placing sealants, as well as naturally deep dental architecture.
Fluorides can help in tooth decay prevention during 2 stages of an individual’s life:
1. When teeth are forming, the body takes fluorides and helps the tooth structure become more resistant to cavities. An excess of fluoride consumption causes stains and defects. This condition is called dental fluorosis.
2. After all teeth are formed, topic fluoride application can help prevent decay.
Focusing on topic fluorides, they come in gels or lotion, and they are applied by dentists on the surface of teeth every 3-6 months. It is important for children to be scheduled for fluoride application.
Bacteria produces acids that demineralize the enamel, creating cavities. Fluorides not only make the enamel more acid-resistant but also are capable of re-mineralizing newly formed cavities as well as having antimicrobial activity.
If you are interested in having preventive dental procedures in Costa Rica, please fill out the “Find a Dentist!” form and a participating dental specialist will contact you to discuss your case.