Dental sealants have long proven effective in preventing tooth decay when applied to healthy, permanent teeth at a young age, and fluoride treatments have likewise proven successful in preventing cavities in children at risk for premature tooth decay.

Lately, however, both preventive measures have gained increasing attention for their benefits to adults.

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 Adults, Fluoride, and Preventive Dental Health

A recent National Public Radio report focused on the emergence of preventive dental health treatments and their virtues to those who may already be facing signs of oral health decline. The NPR story specifically singled out the use of fluoride varnish treatments for adults.

Often recommended for children, this type of fluoride treatment is gaining popularity for adults seeking to protect otherwise healthy teeth from decay or for those who suffer from another condition that jeopardizes their teeth. The NPR report discusses the case of a 91-year-old woman who received a fluoride treatment because she is taking medication that counts dry mouth among its side-effects, which heightens her risk for cavities.

Fluoride treatments aren’t for everyone, but for the right patients they work by coating the teeth with a light, fluoride-based varnish that defends the teeth on multiple fronts. The fluoride seeps into the teeth enamel and draws out calcium and phosphate, minerals that strengthen teeth and help prevent decay; fluoride also combats acid-producing bacteria in the mouth. The NPR story cites a 2013 study that indicates fluoride treatments also work in part by making it more difficult for bacteria to stick to teeth.

Adults and Dental Sealants

Where fluoride treatments must seep into the teeth, dental sealants offer a physical barrier in the form of a light, plastic coating that is applied to the chewing surfaces of teeth. On its Preventing Tooth Decay page, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites a 2014 study that shows dental sealants applied to the permanent molars prevented more than 80 percent of cavities two years after placement.

The American Dental Association also notes the preventive oral health benefits of sealants. The ADA states that while the likelihood of tooth decay begins early in life, “adults can benefit from sealants as well.”

Dental sealants can last for approximately 10 years, and on its Seal Out Tooth Decay page the National Institutes of Health states the treatment is appropriate for children and adults alike with long-term benefits for both. Sealants, according to the NIH, “save time and money in the long run by avoiding fillings, crowns, or caps used to fix decayed teeth.”

If you’re seeking comfortable, compassionate dental care in the Columbia, SC, area, please consider the knowledgeable team at Smile Columbia Dentistry. Whether it’s time for your regular checkup and teeth cleaning or you’re considering treatment to restore your smile, give us a call at (803) 781-9090 to schedule your appointment.