Another spot that can be difficult or impossible to clean is the grooves in your molars. If you have particularly deep grooves, then even professional cleaning instruments can’t adequately clean them. That leaves your molars vulnerable to decay, as bacteria become trapped in the grooves. Children are particularly vulnerable to this type of decay through their early teenage years.
To protect your molars, your dentist in Seattle can apply sealants to them. Sealants are a clear material that’s applied as a thick liquid, but hardens into a solid. After the molars are thoroughly cleaned, the sealants are applied to fill in the grooves. This helps to prevent severe tooth decay. Sealants last for up to ten years, but need to be reapplied periodically to ensure that they continue to protect the teeth. Dentists particularly recommend sealants for the molars of children as soon as possible as they come in. However, sealants are also beneficial for adults.
Fluoride is a mineral that hardens the enamel of teeth, making it more resistant to decay. Getting enough fluoride is important for preventing cavities and more severe tooth decay. Fluoride is a naturally occurring substance, but children typically do not get enough in their food and water. Most toothpaste contains fluoride, and it’s also added to drinking water in most communities. However, applying extra fluoride to children’s teeth while they’re developing may help them to resist decay. Your dentist in Seattle will apply a fluoride gel to your child’s teeth; this is left on for a few minutes, and then the child spits it out. In some cases, dentists recommend fluoride treatment for adults as well.
Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth, including the tissues of the tongue, cheeks, or gums. The risk of oral cancer is increased by tobacco use (particularly chewing tobacco, or “snuff”), alcohol use, infection with certain viruses, and many other factors. Oral cancer is commonly found in the later stages, when cure is much more difficult. Your dentist in Seattle will perform an oral cancer screening exam each time you come for a checkup. Anything that looks suspicious can be biopsied to make sure it’s not cancer. Catching oral cancer early may make it more likely that treatment will be able to cure it. When your exam doesn’t find anything worrisome, knowing that your dentist has checked for cancer will provide you with peace of mind.