Given the fact that over 90% of adults in America have had at least one cavity in their permanent teeth, chances are that you’ve been affected by tooth decay at some point in your life. Even if you diligently brush and floss your teeth every day and attend your regular scheduled dental checkups and cleanings, it only takes one mistake for tooth decay to gain a hold on your teeth. Luckily, there a variety of treatments that can increase your mouth’s ability to prevent cavities, including dental sealants.
The Birth of Tooth Decay
Preventing and defeating cavities relies on understanding how tooth decay forms in the first place. Although you may not notice them, your mouth holds around 10-15 billion bacteria at any given moment. As they breed and congregate, these microbes form the sticky film called plaque that adheres to your teeth and gums. Some of these germs, mainly Streptococcus mutans, consume sugar and other carbs from your diet, converting them into acid. Over time, the acid erodes your tooth enamel, depletes your teeth of minerals, and paves the way for bacteria to infect your tooth’s inner structures.
Adding Layers of Protection
Tooth enamel, which surrounds and protects your teeth, is your body’s strongest and most mineralized substance. When acid saps your teeth’s minerals, it cannot strengthen itself by absorbing these minerals. Eventually, small holes can open in the enamel’s surface, allowing more bacteria to gather and reach your tooth’s more sensitive tissues.
As decay sets in, the infection can cause similar holes, called cavities, to form in the main structure of your teeth, leading towards the roots and nerves in the pulp at your tooth’s center. Dental sealants, a popular preventive dental measure, involve coating your tooth in discreet acrylic to act as an additional layer of protection against bacteria and decay.
For the procedure to be successful your tooth must already be free of bacteria and decay; otherwise, the acrylic will seal the infection in along with your tooth.