Active Preventative Treatments
Preventative dentistry encompasses education, oral hygiene and diet advice along with active preventative treatment such as Fluoride, Fissure sealants, remineralisation and plaque disclosing. Our dentists will be happy to discuss and advise you of any changes required to your oral hygiene techniques and if you would benefit from further active measures.
Active Preventative Treatments
Tooth decay often occurs on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. These surfaces have pits and grooves (fissures) that trap plaque, bacteria and food. The pits and fissures are hard to keep clean, because toothbrush bristles cannot reach into them. Fissure sealants are protective coatings that are applied like a thick paint sealing deep grooves and fissures helping to prevent decay by facilitating cleaning. They are commonly carried out on children from the age of six years when the first molars erupt but can be suitable for any age. It does not require numbing of the tooth and is very simple, effective and economical.
How long do sealants last?
Sealants may last many years before they wear out. The longevity can be affected by moisture control of the tooth when placed. This is not usually a problem with adults but can be with young children. Sometimes the sealants become worn away or may come off and they may be replaced if deemed to still be required. Your dentist will check the condition of the sealants during your regular dental visits and reapply them as necessary.
Fluoride usage in dentistry has made an enormous impact in reducing the level of dental decay. Studies have shown that where fluoride occurs naturally in water, decay levels are up to 30% less than non fluoridated areas; it does this by strengthening the tooth enamel. In NSW we have fluoride in our tap water to help reduce the risk of dental decay for the population at large. In our practice we also have various fluoridated products that help reduce the risk of decay.
How Fluoride works
Your tooth enamel consists of lots of tightly packed calcium and phosphate mineral crystals. Dental enamel loses and regains some of these minerals every day through a process called demineralisation and remineralisation. Every time you eat something the mouth becomes more acidic due to the presence of plaque bacteria. In acidic conditions minerals are lost from the enamel which weakens it and if enough mineral is lost over time the tooth decays. As the mouth becomes less acidic (through the buffering effect of saliva), some of the crystals are re-deposited back into the tooth enamel and this is called remineralisation.
Fluoride improves the quality of the enamel crystals that are laid down and makes fluoride enamel more resistant to demineralisation. Fluoride also works is by reducing the ability of the plaque bacteria to produce acid.
Who can benefit from fluoride treatment?
Most people will use fluoride toothpaste, but there are certain people more at risk of developing cavities and these people can benefit from fluoride in particular. High risks individuals can include anyone who has a history of tooth decay, poor oral hygiene, and a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugars.
Some people have a dry mouth where insufficient saliva is produced to neutralize the acidic in their mouth, and they may benefit from fluoride treatments to help protect their teeth.
Fluoride treatments can be in the form of a concentrated mouthwash, varnishes, or a gel or foam that is applied to the teeth in a mouth tray. If necessary we can advise on higher Fluoride toothpastes or mouthwashes.