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Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology

Sealants

With the help of your dentist, preventing tooth decay can become even easier. You may already be aware that daily brushing and flossing are the most important weapons against the formation of plaque, the primary cause of cavities. To supplement your regular routine of brushing and flossing, your dentist can apply a coat of plastic material -- called a sealant -- on the top, or biting, surfaces of your teeth. This plastic coating creates a barrier between your teeth and the decay-causing bacteria that live in plaque.

*WHAT IS PLAQUE AND WHY DOES IT CAUSE CAVITIES?
As you or your children eat and drink during the day, the food in your mouth combines with bacteria to produce a sticky film called plaque that attaches on and in between tooth surfaces (tooth enamel). Plaque often is found on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, from which it is difficult to remove by brushing and flossing alone. If plaque is not removed regularly from your teeth, it can produce acids which will attack the tooth enamel and create pits or holes (cavities) in the tooth. This is tooth decay.

*HOW CAN SEALANTS HELP PREVENT CAVITIES?
Coating your teeth with a slippery plastic material makes it harder for plaque to stick to the tiny grooves on the biting surfaces of the teeth - reducing the risk of forming cavities and tooth decay.

*IS IT DIFFICULT TO APPLY SEALANTS?
No. Your dentist may use a special instrument to apply the plastic sealant on your teeth. Most often, it is a painless treatment that lasts for many months.

*WHO SHOULD GET SEALANTS?
Sealants are most effective in reducing cavities in children with newly formed permanent teeth. They are useful in cutting down formation of decay in adult teeth, as well. An application of sealants is a preventive measure to keep teeth healthy. It is an effective way to reduce the need for fillings and more expensive treatment that may be required to repair the damage from cavities, so sealants can also save you money.

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