Fluoride strengthens the enamel of teeth thus reducing dental decay. Children who receive fluoride can have up to 40% fewer cavities then those who don’t. During the past 3 to 4 decades, tooth decay has been dramatically reduced because of fluoride. Our office strongly recommends a topical fluoride application every 6 months.
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Sealants are a plastic resin used to protect the pits and grooves present in premolars and molars. The grooves on back teeth are not conveniently accessible because they are narrow and deep. The bristles of a toothbrush cannot reach into them to clean off plaque. The bacteria that remain in these grooves cause cavities. National surveys report that up to 84% of cavities start in the pits and grooves of teeth. The application of sealants prevents these types of cavities.
Sealants form a barrier that protects the chewing surface of the tooth from bacteria. Numerous studies have shown that sealants are highly effective in preventing cavities. Sealants are necessary for primary molars, premolars and permanent molar of teeth that haven’t been restored.
The procedure to apply sealants is not complicated. The teeth are cleaned and isolated with cotton rolls and gauze. The sealants are then applied to uncontaminated teeth and are hardened by a curing light.
Tooth decay, if detected early, can be removed. Front teeth are restored with a composite resin (tooth colored) material. Back teeth can be filled with silver amalgam or a composite. Necessary options will be discussed during treatment planning.
If tooth decay is too extensive, or close to the nerve, then the treatment modalities will vary in primary and permanent teeth. Primary teeth will need "pulpotomy therapy" - we will explain this. Permanent teeth options vary and recommendations are discussed case-by-case basis.
If a primary tooth is treated with pulp therapy, usually the remaining tooth structure is preserved by restoring it with a crown. Front teeth are treated with composite resin (tooth colored) crowns or stainless steel crowns with white facings. Back teeth are treated with stainless steel crowns.
There are a few situations in which extraction of teeth may become necessary:
- Over retained primary teeth that do not shed upon the emerging of the permanent tooth.
- If any teeth become infected.
- A tooth that may have sustained injury or fracture and cannot be restored.
Normally all primary teeth are replaced by permanent teeth. If a primary (baby) tooth is lost prematurely and if the permanent tooth may not grow in for many months or years, space maintainers are recommended. These prevent the adjacent teeth from drifting or tilting in the empty space. Space maintainers are removed when the permanent tooth emerges.