What is it?
Dental caries is an oral disease that leads to tooth cavities; tooth cavities may be or may be not associated with sensitivity or pain. If a dental caries is not promptly removed, bacteria may reach the dental pulp and create an inflammation process responsible for the lost of tooth vitality. In the worst scenario, dental caries may cause the complete destruction of the crown and the root.
Cavities result from the loss of minerals from the tooth and are caused by the acids produced by bacteria. The bacteria that cause dental caries and cavities accumulate around and between the teeth, forming what is called dental plaque. For a cavity to develop, a tooth generally is covered with dental plaque for an extended period of time. Frequent ingestion of sweets and low saliva flow also favor the development of cavities in the presence of dental plaque.
How is dental caries diagnosed and treated?
Dental caries is diagnosed during clinical examinations. X-ray films can reveal cavities located between teeth and under the gums where direct inspection is difficult. Dr Deliperi also uses new technology including fiber-optic trans-illumination devices.
Cavities can be prevented, but once present they need to be filled to stop their progression and to restore the tooth to its normal contour and function. The size of the filling depends on the extent and depth of the cavity.
Patients at high risk for caries benefit from frequent dental checkups and prevention-oriented actions. Such actions are targeted to each individual’s needs but generally emphasize plaque control (brushing and flossing regularly), a healthy diet (low frequency of sugars), frequent use of fluoride, and periodic professional tooth cleanings.
Fluoride has been shown through research to be extremely helpful in preventing dental caries; it can be applied professionally in the form of gels and varnishes and/or used at home in the form of toothpastes and oral rinses.
What is it?
Sealants are protective resin coatings that are applied in pits and grooves of teeth to prevent tooth decay. Sealants mechanically block pits and grooves, not allowing dental plaque to accumulate and cause caries. Brushing and flossing help prevent tooth decay on smooth surfaces of teeth, but frequently brushing cannot reach into the small pits and grooves to completely clean them. Therefore, these areas are prone to tooth decay .
When is it needed and how is it performed?
The surfaces most often sealed are the chewing surfaces of back teeth (molars and premolars). Sealants are typically placed right after tooth eruption to be more effective. Sealants are recommended for every recently erupted permanent back tooth; tooth eruption is usually completed around 12 to 14 years.
The first application of sealants should be performed around 5 ½ - 6 years. This is the age of first permanent molars eruption (these molars are supposed to stay in the mouth during the all life). Please, note that the first molars eruption occurs just behind the second deciduous molar teeth.
Sealants do not require any significant tooth preparation or drilling. The area or areas to be treated are simply cleaned of debris, etched with an acid conditioner, and sealed with a thin layer of the sealant material. The sealant is then hardened with a curing light.