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Experts Corner

Dentistry

Preventing Cavities With Sealant
by Jennifer Holtzman, DDS, Executive Director, ToothWoman Network

Jennifer Holtzman, DDSSealant represents a safe and effective way to prevent decay in the pits and grooves of teeth, especially those on the biting surface of teeth. Fluoride in mouthwashes, toothpaste or other products is very effective at preventing cavities on smooth surfaces, but in the pits and grooves of teeth, fluoride doesnít work terribly well. Sealant is a thin coating of resin that dentists apply as a protective coating, making the areas virtually impervious to decay. It is used on baby molars as well as permanent teeth since back teeth are very susceptible to decay, especially in the small craters and chasms on the chewing surface of teeth. Though it can be expensive, sealant does work, and can mean significant savings by avoiding fixing a decayed tooth in the long term. Studies have shown a 52% reduction of decay on the biting surface of teeth 15 years after the sealant was placed.

The Procedure
In order for the sealant to stick, the tooth must be dry, which can be a significant problem when working on young childrenís baby teeth. But the procedure is painless, though the material can taste less than yummy. The tooth is dried, cleaned with a special solution, rinsed again and dried. The sealant is painted on the tooth and then hardened with a special light. The sealant can leave teeth feeling like thereís something stuck on the tops of the teeth, but the excess material wears away soon and your childís bite goes back to normal. Very sticky things like taffy or even gum can pull out sealant, so itís best that your child not eat really sticky things.

Why Sealant is a Good Investment
If a filling can be avoided, so can the approximate $1000-$1500 that the subsequent replacement of that initial filling will cost over a personís lifetime.

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