Fluoride vs Dental Sealants: What Every Patient Should Know

Feb 15, 2018 @ 12:24 PM — by drmori

Are you prone to tooth decay? Does it seem like you have a new cavity every time you go to the dentist? As dental professionals, we are experts at repairing teeth, but we prefer to keep them healthy in the first place. Treatments in preventative dentistry can strengthen and protect your enamel, shielding it from harmful cavity-causing bacteria. At Staten Island Smiles in Staten Island, NY, we offer fluoride treatments and dental sealants. Many patients ask us what the differences are between the two. We can help you weigh fluoride vs dental sealants, and discuss how both can effectively supplement your routine oral hygiene routine.

digital illustration of molar tooth sealed inside a bubble on aqua background

What Causes Tooth Decay in the First Place?

Over time, plaque deposits accumulate on the teeth. This plaque harbors bacteria. If the plaque is not constantly removed through regular brushing and flossing, acids develop in the mouth, which begin to break down the tooth enamel. This demineralization weakens the structure of the tooth and makes it more vulnerable to damage.

How Fluoride Treatments Work

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. When tooth enamel begins to break down, fluoride treatments can remineralize the outer surface of the tooth, making it more resilient to the bacteria that lead to cavities.

Professional topical fluoride treatments take only a few minutes to complete and can be administered in the form of a varnish, foam, or gel. If you are particularly prone to cavities, your dentist may provide you with prescription-strength toothpaste with a higher concentration of fluoride. Despite public concerns about the safety of fluoride, there has been no research suggesting that routine fluoride treatments have an adverse effect on health.

How Dental Sealants Work

Dental sealants involve the application of a clear plastic-like material, which is used to shield vulnerable teeth. Most notably, premolars and molars often have deep grooves in the chewing surfaces. Food and bacteria can gather in these areas and make them vulnerable to decay but sealants act as a physical barrier. The protective coating prevents these irritants from coming in contact with the enamel. Dental sealants can be placed in a matter of minutes at our office.

Combining Treatments

Both fluoride and dental sealants are effective preventative measures against tooth decay. In fact, many of our patients have sealants placed in addition to receiving regular fluoride treatments. These preventative treatments are beneficial for patients of all ages. While they are routinely performed on our younger patients, adults who are predisposed to tooth decay may benefit from them as well.

Fluoride and Sealants Are Supplemental Treatments

While fluoride and dental sealants are both incredibly effective, they are intended for supplemental use. Therefore, they are not a substitute for brushing and flossing. In order to remove the harmful biofilm that builds up on the teeth, a routine oral hygiene regimen must be put into practice.

Learn More about Preventative Dentistry

Are you looking for ways to protect your child’s smile or your own pearly whites? Fluoride treatments and dental sealants are an excellent place to start. Both can be completed during a routine dental cleaning at our practice. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Joseph T. Mormino, contact us online anytime.

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