A dental sealant is a fine, plastic coating that is applied to the surface of the teeth to hinder tooth decay. The sealant fills in the grooves and depressions in the teeth, providing a protective barrier against cavities and decay. The prime candidates for this procedure include children, teenagers, and adults without fillings or tooth decay on their molars or premolars.
Benefits of Sealants
Sealants provide a protective barrier against decay causing bacteria. This is especially important during the ages of 6-14 when teeth are most prone to cavities. The sealants are applied to the back teeth, where cavities and decay are most likely to occur. The deep grooves and crevices in the back teeth make it harder to clean the surface, which leaves them more vulnerable to plaque, acids, and food particle build-up. Dental sealants help protect these vulnerable areas by locking out the plaque, food particles, and acids that lead to cavities and tooth decay.
Dental sealants are fairly easy to apply. First, the dentist will clean the teeth to be treated. The teeth are then pretreated with an acidic solution to help the sealant adhere to the teeth. The dentist will then paint the surface area of the teeth with the sealant, which dries to create a protective, hard shell. Sealants can last up to 10 years; however, the dentist will reassess the sealants during regular check-ups and reapply them when necessary.
Important Facts About Sealants
- Most tooth decay occurs on the chewing crevices of the back teeth, an area difficult for toothbrush bristles to reach, so bacteria builds up on the surface and eventually leads to cavities. Dental sealants protect these grooves against bacteria by creating a protective sealant over the teeth.
- Applying sealants during childhood will protect the teeth throughout the cavity prone years, because sealants can last for up to 10 years. Avoid chewing on hard objects to ensure the full life of the sealant.
Sealants are to be used in conjunction with a complete preventive care routine. Along with the sealants, patients should maintain a balanced diet, brush, floss, limit snacking, and attend regular dental visits for essential cavity prevention and overall oral health.