- William Cadenhead
Dental sealants are thin coatings that protect teeth from debris and bacteria that can cause cavities. Brushing and flossing is the most effective way to prevent cavities, but it can be difficult to thoroughly clean the uneven surfaces of the back teeth. While the rough premolars and molars are ideal for cavity-causing bacteria to hide, dental sealants can keep cavities from forming.
Highly effective in preventing decay on the biting surfaces of your chewing teeth, dental sealants are a simple procedure in which a tooth-colored acrylic “coating” is painted onto the surface of the tooth. Dental sealants effectively “seals” the deep grooves, acting as a barrier and protecting enamel from plaque and acids. These protect the depressions and grooves of your teeth from food particles and plaque that brushing and flossing can’t reach.
Easy to apply, dental sealants take only a few minutes to seal each tooth. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and can last several years before a reapplication is needed.
The Placement Process
The process of applying dental sealants is relatively fast and painless. Before we can apply the sealant, we must clean the patient’s tooth with a polishing brush and gritty toothpaste. The tooth is then dried and isolated from the tongue and cheeks to shield them from any saliva.
An etching solution disinfects the tooth and prepares it for better sealant adherence. After the tooth is rinsed and dried again, we will paint a thin bonding layer, followed by the sealant. A special curing light hardens and bonds the sealant to the tooth. Sealing each tooth only takes about one minute.
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Keeping Sealants Long-Lasting
It is important to take care of dental sealants to help them remain effective and long-lasting. Fortunately, maintaining sealants is not difficult for children. A good oral hygiene routine can keep these coatings in good condition.
Regular dental check-ups and cleanings can also extend the lifespan of this preventative treatment. Avoid sticky, chewy, hard, and sugary foods that can cause sealants to break. With the right care, dental sealants can protect a child’s teeth for many years to come.
Dental Sealants FAQ
After a sealant is applied, the surface of the tooth is somewhat flatter and smoother. There are no longer any places on the chewing part of the tooth that the bristles of a toothbrush can’t reach and clean. Since plaque can be removed more easily and effectively, there is much less chance that decay will start.
The longevity of sealants can vary. Sealants that have remained in place for three to five years would be considered successful, but sealants can last much longer. It is not uncommon to see sealants placed during childhood still intact on the teeth of adults. Our office will check your sealants during routine dental visits and will recommend repair or reapplication when necessary. Eating sticky candies will shorten the life span of sealants.
The procedure usually takes just one visit and is a very straightforward process. The tooth is cleaned, conditioned and dried. The sealant is then applied to the grooves of the tooth and hardened with a special blue light. You can resume all normal activities directly after the appointment.
Definitely not! Sealants are only one part of the defensive plan against tooth decay, so it is just as important to brush and floss their teeth after sealants are applied.