What if you could prevent cavities from happening in some of the most problematic places, before they ever even started? Dental sealants do exactly that, sealing away tooth decay and preventing it from developing in the deep pits and fissures found in the chewing surfaces of the back permanent molars.
The teeth sealing process is very simple, straightforward and comfortable. First, the tooth is gently conditioned to open up the porous areas to improve retention. A flowable sealant material is then brushed onto the enamel and cured with a light until it is completely hardened. Some rinsing and air are also used, as the tooth must remain completely dry during the application. No shots, needles, or drilling is needed whatsoever.
Occasionally the area sealed may feel slightly higher for a day or two, until it wears down a few days later or is adjusted by the dentist. Sealants are not permanent, but they should last for several years. Most dentists will replace them for free within a certain time frame if the sealant falls off for some reason. You should also be sure to avoid sticky foods like taffy or caramel, which may pull the sealant off of the tooth.
Sealants do not however, prevent decay from forming between the teeth, which is another common area for cavities to invade. Flossing each day will help prevent interproximal cavities, as well as gum disease between the teeth. Sealants are part of a comprehensive approach to preventive dental care. Patients can benefit from fewer cavities, stronger teeth, and healthier smiles well into their adulthood after having sealants placed on their developing adult molars soon after they erupt.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Michael Juban, Juban Dental Care
Dental sealants are a common preventive treatment used on children to discourage the development of tooth decay in their newly erupted permanent teeth. In most all cases, sealants are placed only in the deep grooves and fissures of the back permanent molars. The first set of permanent molars usually erupts around the age of 6, while the second set is around the age of 12. Every child is different and these molars may erupt a year sooner or later than other children.
How do sealants work? Sealants act like a protective barrier over the deep grooves and pits of the back teeth and prevent bacteria from settling in areas that often decay in young children. This creates a shallower surface area, which is easier to keep clean with normal toothbrushing. Toothbrush bristles cannot remove bacteria from deep grooves, but they can remove bacteria from smoother, shallow areas such as those protected with sealants.
Applying sealants is extremely easy and can be done during your child’s cleaning appointment or when other dental treatment is performed. To apply the clear resin material, the tooth enamel is gently conditioned. After having the tooth prepared, the sealant material is brushed directly onto the surface of the tooth and is then cured using an ultraviolet light, instantly hardening the sealant material. The entire teeth sealing process takes just a few minutes and does not require the use of any invasive dental instruments.
Sealants are virtually invisible, appearing clear or tooth-colored in the grooves of the back teeth. Unfortunately sealants do not protect between the teeth, an area that often develops tooth decay. As a result it is still necessary to floss on a daily basis.
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