Dental sealants are resin or plastic coatings that are applied to the grooved chewing surfaces of your teeth. Usually, these coatings are painted onto the molars and premolars, since their grinding surfaces are filled with irregular dips and grooves in which decay-causing substances can easily settle. Not only do sealants form protective barriers between your teeth and harmful substances, such as plaque, food particles and bacterial acid, but they also help fill in the grooves of the chewing surfaces to lessen the likelihood of the debris settling there.
Even though you may brush and floss your teeth regularly, some debris may still be left in the cracks and crevices of your teeth after your cleaning session is over. The grooves of the chewing surfaces can retain enough food, plaque and bacteria to increase your chance of tooth decay. Sealants help make these vulnerable surfaces more decay-proof.
Signs That You Need Sealants
Here are a few indications that sealants are right for you:
You are a child or teen.
Kids and teens usually develop more cavities than adults. As a result, youngsters can often benefit from dental sealants.
The increase in cavities may be due to dietary differences or a lack of proper dental hygiene. Candies and other sweets make great food sources for oral bacteria, which feed primarily on simple carbohydrates. In addition, youngsters may not clean the depressions in their teeth as thoroughly as adults, especially since the bristles of a traditional toothbrush may not reach deep into the crevices of the back teeth.
Still, children and teens who have permanent teeth will need the teeth to remain in good shape for many years to come. The sealants can help protect the teeth to prevent decay that could result in a dental extraction.
Youngsters who receive dental sealants usually have them applied to their permanent back teeth as soon as those teeth erupt. By applying the sealants as soon as the permanent teeth present, the dentist helps protect the teeth throughout the years when a child is most likely to develop cavities.
Sealants are sometimes applied to primary teeth as well. Even though a baby tooth will eventually be shed, it helps ensure that the permanent tooth that lies beneath the gums will present in proper alignment. If a primary tooth is lost earlier than it should be, the permanent tooth that will eventually erupt may present in a misaligned configuration. Thus, the proper application of sealants could indirectly lessen the need for a child to get braces by lessening the chance of dental misalignment.
You are an adult who regularly gets cavities.
Although dental sealants are great for pediatric patients, adults can benefit from sealants too. If you regularly incur cavities, dental sealants can help you avoid the decay that keeps damaging your teeth.
Tooth decay is often caused by acid that is released by oral bacteria. As the bacteria feast on bits of food that remain in your mouth after a meal or snack, they release acid as waste. The acid eats away at your tooth enamel, dissolving important minerals. As the teeth become demineralized, cavities present. Dental sealants can block the acid’s access to your teeth.
What can you expect when your receive dental sealants?
The application process for dental sealants is generally painless. In addition, it’s not very time-consuming. Here is what you can expect:
- Your dentist will clean and dry your teeth thoroughly. Once each tooth has been properly dried, it is kept dry using cotton or gauze.
- The chewing or grinding surfaces of the cleaned teeth are roughened using an acidic solution. This roughness helps ensure that the sealants will bond properly to your teeth.
- Next, your teeth are rinsed to remove any acidic residue and then dried again.
- Your dentist subsequently applies the sealants to the chewing surfaces of the prepared teeth using a small brush.
- The plastic coatings harden quickly. In some cases, your dentist may use a specialized light to cure the sealants into place.
Do sealants last a long time?
Sealants typically last for years. However, if they do start to wear away or chip, your dentist can simply reapply them.
If you would like to receive dental sealants to protect your teeth, contact our office to schedule an appointment.