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FAQs - Prevention is better than cure

Constant pressure from chewing, grinding, or clenching can cause dental fillings to wear away, chip, or crack. Although you may not be able to tell that your filling is wearing down, your dentist can identify weaknesses in your restorations during a regular check-up.
If the seal between the tooth enamel and the filling breaks down, food particles and decay-causing bacteria can work their way under the filling. You then run the risk of developing additional decay in that tooth. Decay that is left untreated can progress to infect the dental pulp and may cause an abscess.
If the filling is large or the recurrent decay is extensive, there may not be enough tooth structure remaining to support a replacement filling. In these cases, your dentist may need to replace the filling with a crown.

Most dental professionals recommend that you brush your teeth at least twice a day.  Brushing after every meal (and flossing at least once a day) is also a good way to maintain dental health

Calculus, also known as tartar, is the hardened residue that forms on your teeth when plaque is not removed. Plaque can be removed by brushing twice a day and flossing daily. If tartar is allowed to remain on the teeth and below the gum line, it can lead to chronic infection and inflammation. The only way to remove tartar is to have your teeth professionally at your dental office.

Decay occurs when plague, the sticky substance that forms on teeth, combines with the sugars and / or starches of the foods that we eat. This combination produces acids that attack tooth enamel. The best way to prevent tooth decay is by brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Eating healthy foods and avoiding snacks and drinks that are high in sugar are also ways to prevent decay.

Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, is often added to drinking water and is commonly found in toothpaste. Research has shown that the rate of cavities decreases in areas where fluoride is added to the water supply. Health authorities, such as The American Dental Association and The World Health Organization, both advocate the addition of fluoride to drinking water, and recommend you use toothpaste that contains fluoride, if age appropriate.
If you do not have fluoride in your water, fluoride is also available in:

  • Tablets
  • Rinse
  • Varnish
  • Foam

 

There are many varieties of toothpastes on the market. There is everything from gels, whitening toothpaste, tartar control toothpaste, to natural toothpaste, toothpaste made for children, and sensitive teeth.  The brand of toothpaste you choose is not as important as what is in the toothpaste itself.  Even if you have fluoride in your drinking water, it is still wise to choose toothpaste that contains fluoride.  Another thing to consider is the more chemicals that are added to the toothpaste, the higher at risk you are for your teeth and gums to become irritated and sensitive.  The bottom-line:  use toothpaste which contains fluoride.

Sealants are a thin plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth – usually the back teeth (the premolars and molars) – to prevent tooth decay. The painted-on liquid sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and grooves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth. Although thorough brushing and flossing can remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, they cannot always get into all the nooks and crannies of the back teeth to remove the food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas from tooth decay by "sealing out" plaque and food.

Because of the likelihood of developing decay in the depressions and grooves of the premolars and molars, children and teenagers are obvious candidates for sealants. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.
Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the dental sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14
In some cases, dental sealants may also be appropriate for baby teeth, such as when a child's baby teeth have deep depressions and grooves. Because baby teeth play such an important role in holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth, it is important to keep these teeth healthy so they are not lost too early.

Applying the sealant is a simple and painless process. It takes only a few minutes for your dentist or hygienist to apply the sealant to seal each tooth. The application steps are as follows:
First, the teeth that are to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned.
Each tooth is then dried and cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry
An acid solution is put on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to roughen them up, which helps the sealant bond to the teeth. The teeth are then rinsed and dried.
Sealant is then painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden

Sealants can protect the teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wearing at regular dental check-ups. Your dentist can replace sealants as necessary.