Why Sealants and Fluoride?
The reason SEAL INDIANA focuses solely on placing dental on children in Indiana is because the pits and fissures of back teeth are the most common site for decay to start. In the United States, 87% of dental decay occurs in pit and fissure areas of molars and premolar teeth. Fluoride has dramatically decreased dental decay on the smooth surfaces of teeth but has limited impact on pits and fissures. Fortunately, sealants can protect these very vulnerable areas of teeth.
Food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces can be removed easily by tooth brushing, but pits and fissures are places that are extremely difficult to clean because the toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way in to the grooves.
A sealant is a plastic material that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting the decay-prone areas of the teeth from plaque and acid. Each tooth takes only a short time to seal, and the process is comfortable. Dental sealants do not require any drilling or anesthesia. A visual examination helps to determine which teeth do not have cavities or fillings and are appropriate for sealants. The child’s teeth are then cleaned and prepared for the procedure. Teeth are isolated using cotton rolls or a device called Isolite™, after drying the teeth a small amount of liquid sealant material is painted onto the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This material is hardened with the use of a special light so that it bonds to the teeth and provides a hard protective coating on the treated surfaces.
Fluoride is a mineral that prevents tooth decay (dental caries). A fluoride rinse is a concentrated solution that needs to be used regularly to have an effect. Fluoride rinses and varnishes have been used extensively as a caries-preventive intervention in school-based programs and also individually at home.
Fluoride can repair the earliest stage of decay before it turns into a cavity that needs to be filled. Tooth decay, although on the decrease, is still one of the most common diseases affecting school aged children. Fluoride applications can help to reduce cavities even if the children are getting fluoride at home.
Sealants and fluoride have been used by dentists for more than 20 years and are endorsed by all of the major dental health associations:
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
American Academy of Public Health Dentistry
American Dental Association
American Dental Hygienists Association
American Public Health Association
American School Health Association
Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors
U.S. Surgeons General