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Dental sealants

Reduce risk of cavities with dental sealants from Alliston, ON dentist

While our culture has made great strides toward reducing tooth decay, cavities remain a prevalent oral health problem. Health Canada reports that 59 percent of children have had a cavity by age 19, and the average number of teeth affected by decay is 2.5. Dr. Oksana Vozna offers dental sealants to help young and adult patients in the Alliston, ON area fight cavities.

How cavities occur

You may think of a tooth repaired with a filling when you hear “cavity.” However, the term actually refers to the hole caused by destruction of tooth structures, and the dentist’s preparation of the damaged area for a restoration.

In simplified terms, a tooth consists of a pulp chamber housing vascular and nerve tissues. It is surrounded by dentin, a hard but somewhat porous structure that makes teeth strong enough for chewing. Dentin is protected by a pearly layer of enamel. To the naked eye, enamel appears to be impervious. However, under magnification you can see that it is covered with countless tubules, or microscopic channels that extend to the dentin layer.

Hundreds of types of bacteria live in your mouth, some of which harmoniously aid in digestion and other important bodily functions. Others, however, are harmful to teeth. They form a layer of plaque to protect themselves. This sticky, colorless film traps debris from foods and beverages you consume. As bacteria feed on sugars and starches, they excrete acids.

Saliva helps to flush excess bacteria from the mouth each time you swallow, and it contains calcium, phosphate, fluoride, and other minerals that helps that help to repair acid attack. However, when teeth are continually exposed, such as from frequent snacking and lots of sweet or acidic drinks, acid works its way into tubules. This creates holes in enamel. Without treatment, damage progresses to the dentin in your teeth. Eventually, the cavity allows pathogens to reach the pulp chamber, triggering a toothache or abscess, and requiring root canal therapy or extraction.

Dr. Vozna provides cavity repair services including white fillings and porcelain inlays, onlays, and crowns. However, the Dominion Street Dental team wants to help you and your family prevent tooth decay and avoid the need for extensive dental work with preventive options including dental sealants.

Molars present unique oral hygiene challenges

While decay can develop in any tooth, molars are especially susceptible. These large teeth at the back of the arch are made for grinding food into digestible bits. Each one has a sizeable top surface, contoured to fit with the opposing molar. This surface is characterized by uneven topography, with ridges, valleys, pits, bumps, and grooves. That makes more food traps and creates crevices where bacteria become entrenched and flourish. These nooks may be smaller than the bristles on your toothbrush, resisting even excellent home oral hygiene.

The dental sealants procedure in Alliston, ON

Your first line of defense in preventing tooth decay is daily brushing and flossing, but dental sealants can be a big help. This thin liquid plastic is painted onto chewing surfaces of freshly-cleaned molars. It flows into surface irregularities, then hardens quickly to keep bacteria out. Dental sealants can even stop a tiny acid hole from developing into a cavity. The sealant material does not interfere with x-rays, and because it is clear, Dr. Vozna can continue to monitor the area visually at future dental visits.

Though baby teeth can also be treated, Dr. Vozna usually recommends dental sealants for kids as soon as secondary molars emerge – usually between the ages of 6 and 12 years old – to improve the chance of having a cavity-free mouth for life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that school-age children who have not had dental sealants treatment have about three times more cavities than kids who are protected.

Dental sealants for adults are also beneficial. This precaution is especially important for anyone who smokes, likes sweet beverages or diet or energy drinks (which have high acid content), or cannot brush after every meal.

At Dominion Street Dental, the tooth sealant procedure is non-traumatic. It is performed at your regular checkup appointment, immediately after teeth are professionally cleaned and Dr. Vozna has completed her examination. The dental hygienist dries teeth to be treated and then applies a gel. It microscopically roughens the surface to ensure a good bond of sealant to enamel. The etching solution is rinsed away after just a few seconds, and teeth are dried again. The sealant formulation is applied, then hardened with light-activation. There is no “downtime” – you may resume normal eating, drinking, and hygiene right after sealant treatment.

Why patients like dental sealants

  • The procedure is painless
  • It adds only a few minutes to a check-up appointment
  • Sealant is transparent, so it cannot be seen when you speak or smile
  • Dental sealants are very safe
  • Risk of allergy is rare, and exposure to BPA is less than you receive from handling a cash register receipt
  • Protection from sealants can last up to a decade; Dr. Vozna checks the sealant condition when you are in the chair, and recommends re-application as needed
  • Dental sealants are effective – studies show that this preventive technique reduces risk of molar decay by about 80 percent

Additionally, sealant treatment makes good financial sense. Tooth sealant cost is covered by some dental insurance benefits. Regardless, the up-front expense likely avoids costlier repair and restoration procedures in the future.

Would you like to have fewer cavities and help your children avoid fillings, too? Call Dominion Street Dental in Alliston, ON at (705) 435-4124 to schedule dental sealants treatment.