During the early 1980’s a protective resin coating became commercially utilized by dentists to protect teeth from development of dental decay. This protective resin was termed, “sealants,” as it sealed-out dental decay. Sealants work by filling in the deep pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth before they are colonized by cariogenic bacteria and food debris. This, in turn, dramatically decreases the probability of developing dental decay in these areas. Though this application only prevents cavities on the tops and sides of the back molars, these areas are the most common locations for this destruction. Research conducted over the past 20-years has shown that the placement of sealants has reduced dental decay on the tops of these teeth by over 80%. The sealant application is non-invasive, quick and comfortable. If applied properly by a trained dental assistant, will effectively protect these teeth for many years. Sealants are particularly effective in children, as this is the most common period for the development of decay. Sealants are best suited for placement on the permanent molars, as these tend to have the deepest pits and fissures.
Research has shown that about 93% of adults develop one or more cavities in the pits and fissures of their back molars.
Sealant Application Process
Sealant application involves first cleaning the surface of the tooth and rinsing the surface to remove all traces of the cleaning agent. An etchant solution or gel is then applied to the desired pits and fissures. After 15-20 seconds, the etchant is thoroughly rinsed away with water leaving an abrasive surface to which a sealant can readily attach. After the site is completely dried, the sealant material is applied and allowed to harden using a specialized curing light.
During regular dental check-ups, your dentist will evaluate, touch-up and maintain these protective resins. If completed without any moisture contamination and maintained at subsequent check-ups, sealants can provide protection against dental decay for up to 10-15 years. Sealants are also extremely cost effective, as the placement of four sealants is equivalent to the cost of restoring one moderately sized cavity. Insurance companies typically cover a majority, if not all, of the sealant cost as they too understand their ability to dramatically reduce the development of dental decay in these prone areas.
Xylitol is a tooth-friendly sugar. In addition to not encouraging cavities, xylitol may actively aid in repairing minor cavities caused by sucrose and carbohydrates. Recent research confirms a plaque-reducing effect and suggests that the compound attracts (tricks oral bacteria into thinking it is sucrose) and then starves the harmful micro-organisms allowing the mouth to demineralize damaged enamel. Xylitol based products are allowed by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to make a claim that it does not promote dental caries. Xylitol also has shown potential as a treatment for osteoporosis and in preventing ear infections.
Xylitol has been found to:
- Fight and lessen the occurrence of inner ear and sinus infections.
- Fight and reduce the presence of plaque.
- Fight the development of cavities.
- Reduce the secretion of plaque acids.
- Facilitate the demineralization of tooth enamel.
Using chewing gum or candy sweetened with 100% xylitol increases the protection against cavities. Sucrose and xylitol have very similar compositions and therefore are both regularly consumed by cavity causing bacteria within the mouth. However, Streptococcus mutants is unable to metabolize xylitol into a product that can be used for energy. Therefore, it is tricked into eating a food that ultimately kills them and therefore decreases an individual’s vulnerability to developing cavities. Many products currently contain some xylitol, however, it is ideal to find those that are sweetened entirely with this product.