If you have dry mouth, and about one-third of the adult population does, consider asking your dentist to apply sealants to your teeth, reports the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), an organization of general dentists dedicated to continuing dental education.
Dry mouth can be caused by medication, irradiation, stress, autoimmune disease, or neurological factors, and adult patients who experience dry mouth would benefit the most from sealants.
"These patients are especially susceptible to cavities, because the naturally occurring buffering effect of saliva is reduced," explains E. "Mac" Edington, DDS, MAGD, president-elect of the AGD. "Saliva protects against cavities by breaking down dietary starches, neutralizing and buffering plaque acids, providing ions for tooth remineralization, and by coating teeth with protective proteins."
When saliva becomes diminished in an adult with dry mouth, the patient becomes very susceptible to decay, and sealants can help protect the patient against cavities. The simple procedure involves an application of a light coating in the deep grooves of the teeth. The newest generation of sealants also has fluoride and antibacterial agents to further protect against cavities. Sealants can only be applied to teeth not currently decayed or filled.
Reviewed: January 2012