Many dental providers offer preventive services that help protect the oral health of their patients. If you'd like to take care of your teeth over the long term, here are a few dental treatments that are designed to help prevent tooth decay.
1. Fluoride Treatments
Fluoride can be used to help strengthen the teeth by making them less susceptible to decay. Dentists often offer fluoride treatments as routine services. During the treatment application, the dentist coats the teeth with a concentrated fluoride product. The product is allowed to rest on the teeth for a short period before it is rinsed from the mouth. The substance used has a much higher fluoride content than toothpaste or drinking water.
Fluoride draws displaced minerals back to the surface of the enamel and bonds with them to remineralize the teeth. The connection between the fluoride and the minerals forms new tooth material that is more capable of resisting acid-based damage than the original tooth material.
The resistance to acid damage is important since most decay is caused by the exposure of the teeth to bacterial acids. Harmful microbes in the mouth release acidic waste after feeding.
Fluoride products are often flavored to make the procedure pleasant for patients of all ages. Once the preventive application is complete, the dentist may ask you to refrain from eating or drinking for a certain amount of time to allow the maximum absorption of the product.
2. Plastic Sealants
Sealants are plastic coatings that act as barriers between the tooth material and bacterial acids. The dentist typically applies the sealants to the chewing surfaces of the molars. The back teeth tend to be deeply grooved, allowing plaque and debris to settle in the creases and promote decay.
During the application process, the dentist adds the sealants to the tooth material in a liquid state. Once the sealants are in place, the dentist hardens them by exposing the application to ultraviolet light. The sealants remain in place for years. However, they may incur damage over time. If the sealant chips or wears away, the dentist can simply reapply it.
Sealants are frequently used in pediatric dentistry after the permanent molars present. However, they may also be used in adult dentistry, especially if the adult patient suffers from repeated bouts of tooth decay.
To learn more about preventive dental services, schedule preventative dental care services with a local dental clinic.