Preventing and Treating Tooth Decay with Sealants and Fillings
Tooth decay threatens the health of the entire mouth, so it’s critical to prevent it and address it quickly when it develops. Dr. Jerry Strauss uses sealants to protect the tooth surface from decay, and fillings to restore teeth weakened by existing decay. He is happy to discuss the option that is best for your needs during an in-person consultation.
How Dental Sealants Work
According to the American Dental Association, placing sealants on permanent molars can reduce the risk of cavities by 80 percent. Sealants are plastic coatings applied to the grooves and pits of the back teeth, which are most susceptible to developing decay. Although brushing and flossing are designed to remove bacteria and food particles, the brush bristles are too big to access some of these tiny pits and grooves. The protective sealant coating acts as a physical barrier to prevent the build-up of plaque in the grooved and pitted areas.
Sealants are most often recommended for children around the ages of 11 to 13, after their permanent molars erupt (i.e., grow into the mouth). They can also be used on adult teeth that have deep grooves and fissures vulnerable to decay.
Placing Dental Sealants
When placing a sealant, Dr. Strauss first cleans and dries the tooth thoroughly. An acidic solution is used to “rough up” the surface of the tooth to help the sealant better adhere. Dr. Strauss places the liquid sealant onto the chewing surface of the tooth, and it flows into the tiny grooves and pits of the tooth. He then bonds or sets the liquid with a special ultraviolet light.
Sealants can be transparent, white or slightly tinted, depending on the type. They do not impair chewing at all; you can chew normally on a tooth with a sealant. Sealants can last for many years.
How Dental Fillings Work
Fillings are dental restorations used to repair teeth with areas of decay. After the decayed portion of the tooth is removed, the filling is placed to restore the tooth to its normal shape, appearance and function. Fillings strengthen the tooth, too.
Modern filling materials are tooth-colored and virtually indistinguishable from natural tooth structure. Dr. Strauss can select tooth-colored, amalgam or gold filling material based on the area of the mouth where the filling is needed, whether you have any allergies and other factors.
Placing Dental Fillings
The affected tooth is numbed to prevent any pain or discomfort. Dr. Strauss first removes all decayed tooth material using either a laser or a traditional dental drill. He shapes the area of the tooth to receive the filling. Then, Dr. Strauss places the tooth-colored or amalgam filling material, hardening it with a special light to make it strong. He may place several layers of the material, hardening each layer as he works. When Dr. Strauss is finished, he polishes the tooth surface.
Teeth with fillings can chew and bite normally. Depending on the material used, teeth with fillings may look identical to the surrounding natural teeth. A properly placed filling can last for many years.
Learn More about Sealants and Fillings
For more information about preventing or treating tooth decay with sealants and fillings, Dr. Strauss welcomes you to call or email our practice today.