WHAT ARE DENTAL SEALANTS?
Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. Germs and bacteria in the mouth use the sugar from our food to make acids that can create a cavity in the tooth over time. Sealants are the best defense to prevent these acids from penetrating the tooth and decaying the inner dental tissue.
The idea is that if a small cavity is accidentally covered by a sealant, the decay will not spread because it is sealed off from its food and germ supply. Even though dental sealants have been around since the 1960s, fewer than 25 percent of children in the United States have sealants on their teeth. This means that there is a whole population of children that do not have the proper protection for their teeth.
Having a sealant placed on your teeth is simple and painless. Sealants are painted on as a liquid and quickly harden to form a shield over the tooth. Sealants can last up to 10 years, but should be checked regularly by a dental professional during regularly scheduled checkups.
HOW ARE SEALANTS PUT ON?
- The tooth is cleaned with an abrasive powder by your dentist.
- The tooth is then dried, and cotton is placed around the tooth so that it stays dry throughout the procedure.
- A solution is put on the tooth that makes the surface rough and textured so that it’s easier for the sealant to stick on the tooth.
- The tooth is rinsed and dried off with a specialized dentistry tool. Afterwards, a new cotton is put around the tooth so that it stays dry.
- The sealant is painted on the tooth and hardens in a few seconds.
WHY GET DENTAL SEALANTS?
The most important reason for getting sealants is to avoid tooth decay and eventually, root canal therapy. Fluoride in toothpaste and in drinking water protects the smooth surfaces of teeth, but back teeth need a little extra protection. Sealants cover the chewing surfaces of the back teeth and keep out germs and food particles. The chewing surfaces of back teeth are rough and uneven because they have small pits and grooves. Food and germs can get stuck in the pits and grooves, which means they can stay there a long time because toothbrush bristles cannot brush them away.
Having sealants put on teeth before they begin to decay also saves time and money in the long run by avoiding fillings, crowns, or caps used to fix decayed teeth.
WHO SHOULD GET DENTAL SEALANTS?
Children should get sealants on their permanent molars as soon as their teeth come in — before decay attacks the teeth.
- The first permanent molars (called “6 year molars”) come in between the ages of five and seven.
- The second permanent molars (called “12 year molars”) come in when a child is between 11 and 14 years old.
- Teenagers and young adults who are likely to get decay may also need sealants.
- Your dentist might think it is a good idea to put sealants on baby teeth, especially if your child’s baby teeth have deep pits and grooves.
If you are interested in our sealant services or would like to know more about our processes, contact us today to learn more. And, if you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists, click here.