A tooth sealant is a thin coating of clear or white plastic, which is applied to the chewing surfaces of teeth. The teeth that are more likely to receive sealants are the back teeth, i.e. the molars and premolars. When your dentist paints on the sealant, it quickly adheres into the grooves and depressions of the back teeth, establishing a defensive layer over the surface of the teeth. The most common reason behind the application of dental sealants is to inhibit tooth decay.
Why dental sealants are necessary?
Dental sealants are necessary to inhibit tooth decay. With the help of brushing and flossing, food particles and plaque can certainly come off, but only from the smooth or even surfaces of teeth. For the back teeth, however, getting rid of food particles and plaque with brushing and flossing is rather difficult. The reason behind the difficulty is the unusual grooves and depressions that molars and premolars have. A toothbrush and dental floss cannot effectively reach the unusual grooves and depressions of the back teeth. Therefore, to seal these vulnerable areas-the grooves and depressions-application of dental sealants become necessary. Dental sealants seal off the grooves and depressions, preventing food particles from entering and sticking there, eliminating the possibility of plaque formation.
Who should get sealants?
The tendency of developing tooth decay in the grooves and depressions of the molars and premolars is high, children and teens are evident candidates for dental sealants. Adults, however, without dental fillings can also benefit from dental sealants.
Kids between ages 6 to 12 should get dental sealants on their molars and premolars as early as these back teeth have erupted. By getting it early, sealants will protect the children’s teeth throughout the cavity-prone years.
How a dentist applies the sealants?
Application of dental sealants is simple. There is no drilling or grinding of tooth structure, and it would take no more than a few minutes for your hygienist or dentist to apply the sealant material. Below is the process of how a dentist applies the dental sealant.
• The dentist will first thoroughly clean the teeth that require sealant.
• The dentist will then dry each tooth. In order to keep the tooth dry for the procedure, your dentist will place a cotton or absorbent material around the tooth.
• A slightly acidic solution is applied to the chewing surface of the teeth, which roughens them and helps the sealant material stick to the teeth properly.
• The dentist will then rinse the teeth and dry them again.
• Finally, the dentist will apply the sealant material over the surface of the prepared-tooth and use a special light to harden the material.
What is the durability of dental sealants?
Dental sealants can easily last for up to ten years, protecting teeth from decay; however, the dentist needs to check them on a regular basis in order to detect any chips or damage. If any chip or damage is found, the sealants need to be replaced.