Tooth decay affects more than one quarter of children ages two to five, half of those ages 12 to 15 and countless adults in the United States. In fact, tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children; five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever. While daily brushing and flossing are essential to maintaining healthy teeth and gums, there are other things you can do to further prevent tooth decay from occurring. The good news, tooth decay is preventable.
The Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) wants to educate the public about the benefit of dental sealants as a cost-effective, preventive measure to combating tooth decay. Though sealants are most effective in reducing the number of cavities in children whose primary teeth have recently erupted, they also can be beneficial to adults. According to the 2000 Surgeon General's Report on Oral Health, sealants have been shown to reduce tooth decay by more than 70 percent.
A dental sealant is a thin plastic coating that your dentist can apply to the chewing surfaces of your back teeth (premolars and molars) to help protect them from decay by sealing out plaque and food particles. Sealant application is quick and painless. First, the teeth to be sealed are cleaned and a special solution is applied to help the sealant stick to the tooth. The sealant is then painted onto the tooth. Sometimes a special light is used to help the sealant harden. Sealants typically last several years before a reapplication is needed. Your dentist will continue to monitor the condition of your sealants during your regular dental checkups and reapply when needed.
"With sealants and community water fluoridation, the prospects for a cavity-free lifetime have never been greater," said Dr. William Spruill, a general dentist from Carlisle and president of PDA.
In addition to dental sealants, PDA recommends the following tips to keep your teeth and gums healthy:
Preventing tooth decay is important to both your overall and oral health. If left untreated, tooth decay can cause pain, infection and even tooth loss. It can interfere with your daily activities, including chewing and speaking, and negatively affect your self-esteem.
For more information on other oral health topics, visit www.padental.org/patientinformation
About the Pennsylvania Dental Association
Founded in 1868, the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) is comprised of approximately 6,000 member dentists. It is a constituency of the American Dental Association (ADA), the largest and oldest national dental society in the world. PDA's mission is to improve the public health, promote the art and science of dentistry and represent the interests of its member dentists and their patients. PDA is the voice of dentistry in Pennsylvania. For more information on PDA, visit our website at www.padental.org