Tooth sealants are nothing but thin coating of plastic that are applied on the upper or chewing surfaces of teeth. The teeth on which these sealants are applied are normally the back teeth that are the molars and premolars. When painted, this sealant quickly sticks into the grooves and hollows of the teeth thereby forming a defensive guard over the outer surface of each tooth. The primary purpose of applying tooth sealants is to prevent tooth decay.
Why Apply The Sealants?
Food particles and plaque can come off with thorough brushing and flossing, but only from the even surfaces of teeth. In all the nooks and corners of the back teeth, however, thorough brushing and flossing is not enough to remove the food particles and plaque. A dentist can “seal off” these vulnerable areas, the nooks and corners of the back teeth, by applying sealants. With these exposed areas sealed off, food particles will not be able to go inside and stuck there, whereby eliminating any possibility of plaque formation.
Who Should Get Them?
Since decay buildup is possible in the grooves and hollows of the molars and premolars, children and teens are the clear candidates for tooth sealants. Adults, however, without any molar filling can also benefit for tooth sealants.
Children between age 6 and 12 need to get sealants on their premolars and molars as early as these teeth have erupted. In this way, sealants can shield the teeth of children throughout the cavity-prone years.
How A Dentist Apply The Sealants?
It is a simple and painless procedure to apply the sealant. It requires no drilling or removing tooth structure and would normally takes only several minutes for the dentist to apply. Below are the steps how a dentist applies the sealant.
- The teeth needed to be sealed are first cleaned thoroughly.
- Each tooth is dried and then to keep the tooth dry an absorbent material or cotton is put around it.
- A mild acidic solution is applied on the upper or chewing surface of the teeth, which roughens them and helps the sealant glue to the teeth properly.
- The teeth are then washed off and dried.
- The dentist then applies the sealant on the outer surface of the tooth, where it glues to the tooth and hardens.
How Long Do They Last?
Sealants can normally last for up to 10 years, but the dentist needs to check them regularly for a chip or damage. In case of a chip or damage, the dentist will replace the sealants.