If you are searching for ways to help prevent cavities, tooth decay and tooth loss, you may have heard of dental sealants, which are coatings that are put on the back teeth to help prevent food from getting stuck in the cracks and crevices. While they are generally used on children, they can be beneficial for adults.
Understanding Dental Sealants
According to ADA Mouth Healthy, about 43 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 11 receive dental sealants, which are known to help reduce cavities by an estimated 80 percent. Dental sealants in young adults and older adults is less common but can still be useful.
Types of Dental Sealants
Dental sealants are a type of liquid coating that hardens once applied to the teeth. It is generally comprised of a liquid resin, glass ionomer or composite material. All of these types of sealants help prevent cavities.
- Resin Sealants – Known to be long-lasting while releasing fluoride, which helps strengthen teeth.
- Glass Ionomer Sealants – Resistant to wet environments, releases fluoride, not as long-lasting as resin sealants.
- Composite Sealants – Strong and long-lasting when the tooth can be completely isolated from saliva during application.
How Dental Sealants Are Applied
Dental sealants can be applied on any teeth that do not currently have sealants or signs of tooth decay and have never been filled. They are generally placed on the back teeth, but they can be placed on any tooth that has a deep groove.
1. The tooth is cleaned and dried.
Each tooth that is to receive a sealant must be cleaned with dental paste and a rotating dental toothbrush in order to remove all debris and plaque. Then, the tooth is rinsed to remove any excess paste and thoroughly dried.
2. The tooth’s surface is chemically roughened.
Dental sealants do not require any drilling or filing, but the tooth’s surface must be roughened slightly in order to achieve proper adhesion between the tooth and the dental sealant. This is typically done by applying a slightly acidic gel onto the chewing surface for a few seconds then rinsing it away with water.
3. The tooth is dried again.
Once the final rinse is complete, the chewing surface is completely dried. For some sealants, the tooth must also be isolated from the rest of the mouth using dental barriers in order to prevent saliva contamination.
4. The sealant is applied.
Once the tooth has been completely prepared, the sealant is applied to the chewing surface. As the sealant is put onto the tooth, it fills all the deep crevices and grooves, which prevents food from getting into the tooth and potentially forming a cavity.
5. The sealant is cured.
Most modern sealants are light cured. This means that once the sealant is on the tooth, a small light is placed in the mouth, which helps the sealant dry, cure and harden.
Dental sealants typically last about 10 years. Yearly checkups can help determine if the sealant is still in place or if it is wearing away more rapidly than expected. If the sealant does come off or wear away, a new sealant can be applied, providing there are no signs of dental decay or cavities.
Dental Sealants and Oral Hygiene
Dental sealants do not remove the need for good oral hygiene. The sealants only protect the surfaces where they are applied, which means individuals with sealants still need to brush and floss their teeth every day in order to prevent cavities in other teeth and to prevent cavities on the areas of the sealed teeth that have not been filled, like between the teeth.
Dental Sealants with Our Clermont, FL Dentist
Our pediatric and adult dentist can examine your teeth to determine if you would benefit from dental sealants. If we determine that you have teeth that are at risk for developing cavities but show no signs of dental decay and have not already been filled, our dentist can apply sealants so that you can avoid future cavities.
To learn more about dental sealants and to schedule an appointment with our Clermont dentist, call us at 352-989-5815.