If you’re like many adults today, you have your share of cavities, most acquired during childhood. And, like many adults, you probably have some not-so-cherished memories of the drilling, and the stuffing, and the discomfort that can accompany getting a filling. Filling cavities in our teeth is important, but it can’t quite be called fun. And it’s not a sign of healthy teeth, either. Cavities signal tooth decay, but how can you keep that decay away? Call on dental sealants.
Do Dental Sealants Help Prevent Cavities?
Brushing your teeth and flossing daily removes most of the food and bacteria from your teeth. But not all of it. Especially on teeth in the back of your mouth — molars and premolars. These are the teeth that do most of the work, the grinding and chewing, when you eat. And the surface grooves and fissures —which all teeth have — are deeper on these teeth than on others, and harder to reach when you brush, especially for young children.
Dental sealants consist of a thin coating of liquid plastic that’s painted onto the chewing surface of molars and premolars. They serve as an extra barrier to help protect these hard-working teeth from decay. Sealants work much like the commercial packaging we find on perishable foods in a store. They keep food particles, bacteria, and plaque from settling into the hills and valleys of your tooth’s surface in the way that a package, be it a can or a bag, keeps dust and dirt out of the food on your grocer’s shelves.
Dental sealants are permanently bonded to a tooth’s surface. To apply a dental sealant, we first use an acidic solution to roughen the surface of the tooth so that the sealant solution will stick as well as possible. Once the acid is rinsed off, the sealant is carefully painted onto the surface of your tooth. As the sealant is applied, it flows into all the crevices in the tooth, some of which are thinner than a strand of human hair. The final step is hardening the sealant, called polymerizing, accomplished by shining a curing light on the tooth for a few minutes.
Their application takes little time — most often less than 45 minutes — and helps ensure that your tooth will be ready to keep out bacteria and food particles for years to come. And it’s usually painless, a plus for children who fear the dentist or people who have particularly sensitive teeth.
How Well Do Dental Sealants Do Their Job?
Keeping cavities out of teeth in order to avoid the need for a dental filling is one of the main jobs dental sealants are specifically designed to do. Although they are most often used on children’s teeth, sealants can work well for adults, too. The statistics are impressive:
According to the American Dental Association, sealants can not only prevent cavities, but they can also sometimes halt the progression of tooth decay that has not yet created a cavity.
Is The Cost of a Dental Sealant Worth It?
Typically, placing dental sealants will cost from $30 to $60 per tooth, depending on the teeth, your overall oral health, and the number of teeth to be sealed. Most dental insurance plans either don’t cover sealants at all, or offer minimal coverage. Nevertheless, even without dental insurance, sealants are likely to be less costly in the long run than handling tooth decay by putting in a filling.
The initial cost of filling a cavity is significantly more than the cost of a dental sealant. A filling can cost as much as $150 depending on the size of the filling needed and the type of filling desired. And cavities, and the need to fill them, are not uncommon. According to Zentist, a dental insurance website, on average:
42% of children age 2 to 11 have cavities in their primary teeth
59% of adolescents age 12 to 19 have cavities in their permanent teeth
92% of adults have at least one cavity
Even if cost isn’t an issue, time and inconvenience often are. At the least, like getting a dental sealant, filling a cavity means a visit to your dentist. But getting a filling takes longer, can be uncomfortable during the procedure, and may cause pain (from mild to severe) that keeps you from your normal activities for the rest of the day. Sealants can be applied rather quickly, compared to filling a cavity, and they usually cause no pain or discomfort. And, unlike replacing a filling, which requires re-drilling the tooth, if a seal is broken, for whatever reason, the sealant can easily be reapplied.
As with any oral health decision, the real first step to stopping cavities with dental sealants is to talk with your dentist. We at Lifetime Dental Health are here to help, right from the start. To talk to one of our dental professionals or to make your first appointment, contact us. We’ll be happy to help you stop cavities in their tracks, before they reach your pearly-whites.
Cavities in your teeth can be painful. A crooked tooth can make your smile less than perfect. And stained or discolored teeth can be embarrassing. Still, these dental situations are just annoyances compared to the loss of a tooth, or worse yet, several teeth. According to the American Dental Association, the average adult between 20 and 64 years of age has at least three decayed or missing teeth.
Missing teeth can change how you speak, make it difficult to eat, allow other teeth to get out of place, and even lead to tooth decay and additional tooth loss. That’s why replacing missing teeth is one of the most important dental corrections you can make to keep your teeth — in fact, your whole body — healthy. And one of the best ways to replace missing teeth is with a dental bridge.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A common way to connect two things — ideas, cultures, musical genres — is described as “bridging the gap.” It’s an idiom with a meaning that seems crystal clear. And one that applies perfectly to a common means of replacing missing teeth: a dental bridge. A dental bridge is just that — a device that bridges the gap between two (or more) missing teeth, by inserting the same number of artificial teeth (called “pontic teeth”) into the gap and connecting them to natural teeth (called “abutment teeth”). Dental bridges have been used regularly since the early 1900s and were by far the preferred way to replace teeth for decades. Today, four basic styles of dental bridges are available and affordable.
These are the most common type of dental bridge because, usually, if you lose a tooth or teeth you still have natural teeth on both sides of the gap. A traditional bridge uses these natural teeth to hold the “bridge” that replaces the missing teeth. The natural teeth are crowned, and the bridge is placed between them. It is then secured by cement to the crowns on the natural teeth. Most often made of porcelain fused to a metal base, these bridges are strong enough to withstand the force from chewing or biting, and therefore can be used to replace molars
This type of bridge is basically a specialized version of a traditional bridge that is used when only one side of the gap is next to a natural tooth. The bridge is attached to the single natural tooth in the same way as in a traditional bridge — cemented to a crown — but only on one end. Less stable than a bridge with two abutment teeth, these bridges are not sturdy enough to be used in the back of the mouth, where the force of chewing and biting could damage them
Also called a resin-bonded bridge, this is an adaptation of a traditional bridge, and is made of porcelain fused to metal, porcelain alone, or plastic supported by metal. Often preferred for replacing teeth in the front of the mouth, these bridges do not require that your natural teeth be crowned. Instead, they receive their support from metal or porcelain “wings” that are cemented to the backs of the adjacent teeth. Because of this, a Maryland bridge is only as strong as the bonding cement it’s attached with and, like the cantilever bridge, is not recommended to replace molars.
Considered the strongest, most stable bridge of the four types, an implant-supported bridge is just what the name implies: a bridge supported by implants installed in the jawbone. These bridges usually require a minimum of two surgeries, one to install the implants (each missing tooth is replaced with an individual implant) and one to place the bridge. In cases where an implant isn’t possible for a missing tooth, a pontic tooth is used instead and suspended between two implant-supported crowns. Due to the healing process after an implant, it can take several months for an implant-supported bridge procedure to be completed.
What Are The Benefits of a Dental Bridge?
Over and above simply filling an unsightly gap in your smile, there are a number of advantages to replacing missing teeth with a professional dental bridge. A bridge can keep the teeth surrounding the hole from shifting around, maintain your natural bite so you eat normally, and provide the same structure your lost teeth did to support your speech. It also makes it easier to manage a thorough and effective oral hygiene routine and leaves your mouth feeling as natural and as comfortable as it was before.
Dental bridges are usually rather small and lightweight, and ordinarily, getting used to a dental bridge is easy. They help you look like you did before tooth loss, by maintaining the natural shape of your face and, because of the availability of modern materials, they look the same in color and shape as your remaining natural teeth.
Caring for Dental Bridges
Of course, like your natural teeth, a dental bridge needs care and attention. It’s vital that all your natural teeth stay healthy and strong. The success of any dental bridge is dependent on what it’s attached to, be it implants, crowns, or natural teeth, so preventing problems, particularly in the abutment teeth, is critical.
Most dental bridges last at least five to seven years. But with good oral hygiene — flossing and brushing daily and getting regular professional dental cleanings and checkups — they can last ten years or longer. At Lifetime Dental Health, we can show you how to effectively care for your bridge and advise you on what foods are likely to cause problems.
Don’t go through life with missing teeth. It can compromise the teeth you still have, encouraging tooth decay, contributing to gum disease, and even causing the loss of more teeth. We can help! Whether you’ve lost a single tooth or several, contact us for a free consultation and learn how quickly you can enjoy a full set of teeth again.
Dental implants are today’s solution for missing, decayed, or otherwise damaged teeth. Dentures are still available, but the security and stability of dental implants are far and away more reliable and rewarding.
With the peace of mind dental implants provide, function and form are in balance, and the patient’s life is vastly improved. Long-lasting and specially-made, implants (which come in many varieties, as detailed below) improve eating and speaking, and the patient’s self-confidence soars.
What sort of implant options are available? Which one is right for me?
At Lifetime Dental Health, we offer a number of dental implant options that turn a not-so-great smile into something star-worthy. Depending upon your needs and the state of your jawbone structure, we will select an option that will restore your smile and make you more comfortable and confident.
Most commonly, traditional implants are the way to go. These are attached to the jawbone for prime stability and strength. If your jawbone is in healthy condition, this option is likely the one we’ll select. Of course, every patient is unique, so when you come in for your consultation, we’ll go over the options and move forward with the dental implants that suit your needs specifically. Traditional implants can be used to replace just one tooth or a number of teeth.
The restorative teeth look natural and fit your mouth well, as they are specifically designed to suit your smile.
When multiple teeth need to be restored, a Zirconia Bridge is an option that’s non-removable, as 10-12 implants are embedded into the jaw to hold it in place. The bridge is cemented onto the implants.
For patients seeking a semi-removable solution, ‘Fix on Six’ Zirconia Bridges are appealing. When you come into the office for your semi-annual cleaning, the dentist can remove the bridge.
Another removable option is acrylic dentures. With 4-6 implants, this option is economical, yet far more stable than traditional dentures.
If your jawbone won’t hold dental implants due to thin bone structure or another dental issue, mini implants are amazing. Metal frameworks are anchored in place for the dental restorations. The results are natural-looking without the full dental implant procedure.
We will go over these options in detail when you’re in for your consultation. There’s a lot to understand, and our expertise will enlighten you.
Will the process be long? What about painful?
The process for getting implants does take time. But pain should not be an issue, as we’ll use local anesthesia to keep you comfortable.
The reason the procedure is long is because once the artificial root is placed into the jawbone with screws and posts, the area must heal before the restorative teeth are fitted on top. This healing may take up to six months, but the results are worth the wait. In the meantime, we can fit you with temporary “teeth.”
However, if mini implants are your preference, the process takes only about an hour. This less-invasive and super-quick solution is sufficient for many people who aren’t able or willing to take the traditional dental implant route.
How do I care for my dental implants?
Just like natural teeth, caring for your oral hygiene is a must-do. Brush and floss regularly, and be sure to keep up with your dental examinations and cleanings. Depending upon the type of implants you wind up choosing, we’ll discuss your unique care routine when you’re here in the office.
With good hygiene and upkeep, your implants will last a long time…maybe forever! That said, sometimes repairs need to be made, so follow up with checkups so we can be sure your implants are in good condition. If anything seems off, make an appointment ASAP.
Can I afford dental implants? Do you offer financing or take my insurance plan?
The different dental implant options vary in price range. When you come into our office, we will discuss the options and costs with you candidly. We accept several dental insurance plans, and our office staff can help you better understand if you’re covered.
If you don’t have dental insurance, we accept an array of payment options, including CareCredit. We want you to be able to have the smile of your dreams, so speak with us so we can help you achieve your goals without breaking the bank.
Now it’s time for you to make an appointment for a consultation at Lifetime Dental Health so we can begin your dental implant journey. A stellar smile awaits!
If your dentist has recently mentioned dental sealants, or if you’ve read about them online and you’re not sure what they are, don’t worry. You’re not alone. While dental sealants are becoming more and more popular, many people don’t know exactly what they are or how they work.
What are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are a form of preventative care. Your dentist may recommend these to help prevent any future cavities or tooth decay, especially if you are at high risk for developing these due to an illness or vitamin deficiency. Dental sealants are thin plastic caps or coatings, similar to a crown, that go over your teeth to protect the enamel. These sit on top of your teeth and do not require any additional work such as drilling.
Why Should You Consider Getting Dental Sealants?
No matter how well you brush, floss, and rinse your mouth, there will always be some food particles leftover – either stuck in between your teeth or in the grooves of your molars. Over time, these can build up and attract bacteria to your mouth while slowly decaying your teeth. Dental sealants will help prevent this from happening by covering the enamel of your tooth, preventing both food and bacteria from getting into the grooves and weakening your teeth.
Dental sealants are also a good idea if you have any health condition or vitamin deficiency that results in weakened enamel. While a sealant won’t protect your teeth from your body, it will protect your teeth from any bacteria that try to take advantage of your weakened enamel. This will save you time and money in the long run as you won’t have to pay for more expensive repairs such as fillings, crowns, and even extractions. It can also keep you from pain — so long as your teeth are protected and don’t have cavities, your chances for an infection or your tooth breaking are greatly reduced.
What is the Process for Getting Dental Sealants?
Placing dental sealants is actually a fairly simple, painless process, which is another reason that they are so popular.
First, your dentist will most likely want to perform a cleaning. It is important to make sure that your teeth are as clean as possible so that no bacteria are trapped. If bacteria are trapped, then you will be unable to reach them while brushing, and this can greatly harm the condition and health of your teeth.
Your dentist will then dry your teeth and line them with cotton swabs, so they remain dry throughout the procedure. If you have ever had a filling placed, then it is similar to that process. The teeth are then prepped for the sealant and recleaned and dried. Finally, the sealant is applied and left to dry.
This process is quick and simple, and so long as no complications occur such as your teeth needing to be dried again, it will only take a few minutes for all of your teeth to be sealed and completed.
Is There Any Aftercare for Dental Sealants?
One of the best things about dental sealants is that they do not require special treatment or care after they are placed on your teeth. In order to keep them in good condition, and therefore your teeth in good health, it is important to practice proper dental hygiene. This includes brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash twice a day. Chewing sugar-free gum is also advised. You also need to continue seeing your dentist at least once every six months. This is not just for your biannual cleaning, but also so that your dentist can check your dental sealants for any flaws or imperfections. A crack in the sealant can allow bacteria to reach the inside and damage your teeth, and your brush won’t be able to reach in that crack. A cracked or flawed dental sealant will need to be repaired or replaced immediately. Other than this, however, there are no major lifestyle changes that you will need to make.
How Long Do Dental Sealants Last?
How long your dental sealants last depends on how well you take care of them. Of course, as you read above, the aftercare is fairly simple and doesn’t require anything other than proper dental hygiene and regular dentist visits. So long as you follow your dentist’s instructions, your dental sealants should last for around ten years. However, if they become chipped or cracked, it does not mean that you will have to go through the entire process again. Your dentist will be able to reapply the sealant to a single tooth whenever problems or flaws arise.
If you are interested in learning more about dental sealants or scheduling an appointment to have some placed over your teeth, contact our practice today or give us a call at (614) 333-9442.