It’s important to brush and floss regularly, but this isn’t always enough to maintain good oral health. Sometimes, dental sealants are needed to protect your teeth, especially in areas where you can’t easily reach with brushing alone.
What are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants have been used by dentists around the world for more than forty years. They are thin plastic coatings painted onto the chewing surfaces of teeth. A dental sealant is designed to bond into the natural depressions and grooves of teeth to seal out plaque and food particles. This prevents food particles and plaque from entering the spaces where you find it difficult to reach with a regular toothbrush, dramatically lowering the chance of a cavity forming. Dental sealants can also minimize the progression of noncavitated occlusal caries lesions of the tooth (which are also referred to as initial lesions).
Who Should Consider Sealants?
Dental sealants are designed for children and young adults. However, they can be especially beneficial for young children. Molars first appear at age six and second molars usually follow around the age of twelve. Dental sealants provide added protection during these cavity-prone years, setting your child up for long-term dental health.
How are Dental Sealants Applied?
Another reason that dental sealants are suitable for people of all ages is because it is a quick and simple procedure. Patients need to be able to sit still with their mouth open, but only for a few minutes at the time. First, the teeth are cleaned and prepared. Then a solution is applied to help the sealant bond to the teeth. Then the teeth are dried, and the sealant is painted on.
This is a short, non-invasive, and most importantly, painless procedure!
Where are Sealants Applied?
Dental sealants usually cover the molars (back teeth) because these teeth often have anatomically deep grooves and fissures and they are difficult to reach while brushing. Their natural grooves also make it easier for the dental sealant to bond with the tooth. Some deeper grooves of other teeth such as premolars or anterior teeth can benefit from the placement of selective sealants as well.
Dental sealant can even be applied to teeth with early signs of decay. In this situation a small mechanical preparation of the tooth enamel may be required. Sealing in an advanced cavity, though, would not help. Early signs of decay, however, can be kept in check with sealant. The sealant can be see-through, so your dentist can continue to monitor the tooth’s health.
Do Dental Sealants Need Maintenance?
Your dentist will want to keep an eye on your dental sealants during regular check-ups. This involves looking for chips or wear that would limit the effectiveness of the sealant. Eventually the sealant will need to be replaced, but with proper care that replacement can be years away.
Prevention and Protection Are Key to Your Oral Health
Dental sealants are a preventative measure. If properly applied they help you avoid other procedures, like fillings, which can help save you money and more importantly protect the structural integrity of your teeth.
Have questions or are looking for more information about dental sealants or other oral health procedures? Feel free to contact our office so that we can discuss your oral health routine.