Dental Sealants

Dental sealants act as raincoats for teeth, keeping bacteria and leftover food from the deep grooves and pits on chewing surfaces. These high-risk areas are prone to decay that can lead to cavities, toothaches, and gum disease.

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We typically recommend that children get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as they come in, to protect them through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 12. Adults without decay or fillings can also benefit from sealants.

Pits and Fissures

Dental sealants are plastic resins that bond and harden in the deep grooves (pits and fissures) on chewing surfaces to help prevent tooth decay. They act as a physical barrier, keeping food and plaque from getting into the pits and fissures, where brushing is difficult.

Sealants are typically applied to children’s teeth after their permanent molars have erupted as a preventive measure against tooth decay, but they can be used on adult teeth as well. Research shows that dental sealants significantly reduce occlusal caries in children’s primary and permanent molars.

The teeth to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned and isolated, usually with a rubber dam (operative dentistry’s preferred method). A thick liquid called etch is applied to the surface of the tooth, which allows the sealant to adhere to the tooth. The etched tooth is rinsed and dried, and the sealant is applied with a brush or syringe-like applicator. The tooth is wiped clean, and any bubbles are removed before the sealant is polymerized. Sealants can be glass ionomers or resin-based. Both types are effective at preventing occlusal caries in children’s teeth (see the Sealant Decision-Tree). Choosing a sealant that does not contain bisphenol-A (BPA) or BPA dimethacrylate is important to minimize any potential health concerns, and a sealant that releases fluoride enhances caries prevention, re-mineralization and inhibition of enamel demineralization is recommended.

High-Risk Areas

Dental sealants create a barrier that protects the chewing surfaces of your back teeth. These are the pits and fissures where food debris collects and bacteria form, causing tooth decay. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to more serious oral health problems like gum disease and even tooth loss. Sealants can prevent these problems by shielding these areas with a thin plastic coating that dries and hardens over time.

The procedure for applying sealants is quick and comfortable. Your dentist will clean the teeth to be sealed, then dry them. Next, an acid solution is applied to the teeth that are to be sealed, which roughens up the surface and helps the sealant bond. After this, the teeth are rinsed and dried again.

It is best to apply sealants to children’s molars and premolars as soon as they erupt. However, adults can also receive them on healthy permanent molars as a preventive measure against tooth decay. It is important to note that the effectiveness of sealants can wear off over time, so it is important to schedule regular appointments with your dentist or hygienist for reapplication.

Prevents Cavities

A tooth sealant forms an invisible protective coating over the chewing surfaces of molars to prevent food and germs from getting stuck. This keeps the teeth healthy and free from decay.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), kids with sealants on their permanent molars have up to 80% less chance of developing cavities than those without. Early cavity prevention is always better than treating decay, which can require costly dental treatments such as fillings and crowns.

Although children are the main beneficiaries of dental sealants, adults can also receive them if they have persistent deep grooves on their biting surfaces. Adults with healthy teeth and a good brushing and flossing routine can benefit from this simple preventive treatment. The procedure is quick, easy and painless — much more pleasant than the drilling, filling and discomfort that can accompany a cavity. The dentist cleans and dries the surface of the tooth before applying a weak acid to texture the surface and make it easier for the sealant to adhere. After the tooth is rinsed and dried, a liquid sealant flows into the deep grooves and a special light hardens it.

Painless

A simple, quick and non-invasive procedure, dental sealants can help prevent cavities on teeth that are prone to decay. They work hand in hand with brushing and flossing to protect the teeth from food particles, bacteria and plaque that can cause damage to the tooth enamel.

The groovy anatomy of some teeth can make them a higher risk for decay, especially if they have pits and fissures. Children, who tend to have more of these molars and are more likely to get cavities, can benefit from the protection of sealants.

To apply the sealant, the teeth must be cleaned and dried, then a thick liquid is applied to the surface of the tooth. This is called etching and it roughens up the surface of the tooth, helping the sealant to stick more firmly. Once the surface is ready, the sealant is painted on and then shined with a safe blue light to harden the sealant. With proper care and hygiene, the sealants can last a lifetime. They are also easy to replace if they become worn or damaged.

Lasts a Lifetime

Sealants can last for several years, although they may need to be reapplied. The dentist can evaluate them during regular checkups and reapply them when needed.

A tooth that has a sealant on it will look slightly different. It will appear smooth, as opposed to the pits and fissures that are usually visible. This is because the sealant covers these areas.

The process of applying the sealant is simple and painless. The teeth will be cleaned and dried before the sealant is painted on. The dentist will then use a special curing light to harden the sealant.

Once the sealant is on, it will be resistant to food particles and bacteria. However, patients should avoid biting or chewing on hard foods, as this can cause the sealant to wear down faster. They should also brush regularly and visit the dentist for checkups. If patients follow these tips, their sealants will last a lifetime. In addition, many dental insurance plans cover the cost of sealing teeth as a preventive service. Those without insurance can ask their dentist about the costs of this treatment.