Each of your teeth has an important job to do, and they are constructed specifically to do a particular job. In the case of your back teeth, which are called your molars and premolars, their job is crush and grind your food so that it is easier to swallow and digest. To make that job easier, those teeth have ridges on them which are called cusps. Those cusps are very good at helping us chew our food, but they also create places for food debris and acids to accumulate and for plaque to breed. When those three combine, you can be faced with cavities, lost teeth and gum disease.
Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day will help, since your toothbrush may not be able to reach those areas created by the cusps. To protect your back teeth, your dentist may apply dental sealants. Sealants are thin layers of plastic applied directly to the chewing surfaces of your molars and premolars, that act as an extra layer of protection for your tooth enamel.
First, the tooth is washed, and thoroughly dried. An acid solution is applied to the surface to roughen it up. This will allow the sealants to better adhere to your tooth. After the sealant is applied, the dentist will cure it with a special light, or allow it to harden on its own.
Dental sealants work best if they are applied early, and for that reason they are applied as soon as a person’s molars and premolars erupt. This is also the time when children are most vulnerable to cavities. However, if your back teeth are in good shape, or if you are at heightened risk for cavities, your dentist may suggest using dental sealants. You will still need to brush twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist for your cleanings and exams. Keep in mind that the sealants only cover the chewing surfaces of your back teeth.
If it is time for dental sealants for your child, or if you are considering getting dental sealants for yourself, you should speak with our dentist, Dr. Chad Latino. If you live in the Waco, Texas, area, call 254-230-0737 to make an appointment at Chad Latino DDS PA.