What Are Dental Sealants?
In order to stop tooth decay, thin plastic coatings known as dental sealants are painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth, often the premolars and molars.
Dental sealants shield each tooth’s enamel from damage by the sealant, which instantly adheres to the depressions and grooves in the teeth. Moreover, dentists can apply dental sealants as part of a preventative dental treatment plan.
What Are Dental Sealants Used for?
Dentists use sealants to protect your teeth from disease-causing bacteria. As you eat, your back teeth have deep grooves that assist you in grinding up food.
Over time, tooth decay (cavities) can develop due to food and bacteria becoming trapped in these grooves. Sealants cover these surfaces, preventing bacteria from getting to them.
Causes of Tooth Decay
Everyone has oral bacteria that can lead to tooth decay. For example, when you consume sugary foods, bacteria also consume them and generate acid, which harms the tooth surface (the enamel).
Minerals in saliva aid in the healing of the tooth surface. Additionally, a cavity or “hole” develops in the tooth surface if, over time, more acid damage occurs than can be repaired.
Can Cavities Be Covered with Dental Sealants?
Dentists can apply dental sealants over areas of early decay to save your tooth from further damage. In addition, some sealants are transparent, so your dentist can check the tooth to ensure the sealant is functioning correctly.
Who Can Get Dental Sealants?
Sealants are available for adults and children, although getting them when you are young and healthy is preferable. First molars typically appear at the age of six; second molars typically break through around twelve years. Therefore, you can achieve early cavity prevention and long-term preservation by sealing these teeth as soon as they emerge in your child.
Dentists frequently recommend sealants for protecting permanent teeth, but they also advise getting them to save baby teeth in some circumstances. For example, young children with significant depressions and grooves in their teeth may benefit from dental sealants because “baby teeth” are crucial for maintaining the proper spacing for permanent teeth and a child’s overall health.
How Are Dental Sealants Applied?
The dentist will:
- Clean and dry your teeth.
- Apply the sealant: They paint a thin coating of plastic liquid into the pit (similar to how they apply nail polish onto a fingernail).
- Set the sealant: Then, they set and harden the sealant using a special light.
What Advantages Can Dental Sealants Offer?
While consistent dental hygiene eliminates plaque, food, and debris from the smooth surfaces of your teeth, brushing and flossing don’t always reach all the crevices. Sealants prevent cavities by “sealing out” bacteria, plaque, and food particles from these sensitive areas.
Are There Any Disadvantages?
The benefits of dental sealants often exceed the drawbacks. However, here are some things you need to be aware of:
- Dental sealants only have a five-year lifespan.
- Dentists cannot apply dental sealants to teeth with cavities or fillings.
- Incorrect placement of sealants can keep germs in and lead to cavities.
Ask your dentist whether sealants are an excellent preventive option for you.
Do Sealants Last a Long Time?
Sealants can prevent tooth decay for up to ten years, but at routine dental checkups, dentists must inspect them for wear or chipping. They can also change sealants when necessary by your dentist.
Sealants are similar to raincoats for your teeth. In the same way, a jacket protects you from the weather; sealants protect your teeth from bacteria that might cause disease. Although sealants aren’t infallible, they can significantly lower your risk for cavities, providing you with the best opportunity for healthy teeth and gums.