A sealant is a thin plastic material placed on the chewing surface of permanent back teeth to act as a barrier to tooth decay. The sealant bonds to the tooth surface so that plaque bacteria cannot get into the pits and fissures.
Fluoride is effective in preventing and reversing the early signs of tooth decay. Research has shown that it strengthens the tooth structure, making it stronger and more resistant to acid attacks. Acid is formed when the bacteria in plaque break down carbohydrates in the foods we eat. Repeated acid attacks break down the tooth, causing cavities. Fluoride also repairs, or re-mineralizes, areas in which acid attacks have already started. Re-mineralization reverses early decay and creates a more resistant tooth surface.
Dietary fluoride supplements are available by prescription for children aged 6 months to 16 years who live in non-fluoridated areas such as Oregon. When your child is 2-3 years of age, begin using a pea-sized dab of fluoridated toothpaste.