Dental sealants are coats of thin plastic that are painted on a patient's teeth. They are applied to the biting surfaces, and they help to prevent tooth decay. Sealants do this by preventing food particles, bacteria and acids from getting into the grooves on them.
Think of dental sealants as a form of artificial enamel. It provides an extra layer of protection acids have to get past before they can damage teeth.
Brushing and flossing is an effective way to keep these spaces clear of plaque and food particles, but it is not always possible to get all the tight spaces in the back of the mouth. Sealants are used to protect these vulnerable areas which might not be getting cleaned as well as the easier-to-reach teeth are.
Who needs dental sealants?
Teenagers and children are good candidates for dental sealants since they are more likely to not properly clean the hard-to-reach areas of their mouth. Adults who are prone to tooth decay should also consider getting sealants.
Many dentists recommend getting sealants on the permanent premolars and molars of children as soon as they erupt. This helps to protect them during the cavity-vulnerable years between the ages of 6-14. Cavities at this stage can turn to serious health issues later in a child's life.
Sealants can also be used on baby teeth if they are prone to decay. Their health is important since they serve as placeholders for permanent teeth. Having them fall out early due to decay can lead to serious dental issues like an impacted tooth later on.
Tooth decay is caused by the acids produced by oral bacteria. These organisms form a sticky film called plaque around teeth, and they excrete acids that eat away at teeth. Brushing and flossing remove plaque from the mouth, but the back teeth are notoriously more difficult to clean. It makes them more vulnerable to tooth decay than the other teeth.
How dental sealants are applied
Getting a dental sealant applied to teeth is a simple process that those not involve any pain. It only takes a few minutes from start to finish:
- The dentist cleans the teeth that will be treated
- They are dried and an absorbent material is placed around them to keep them dry during the application
- An acid is used to etch the surfaces of the teeth. This creates a better bond with the sealant when it is applied
- The acid is rinsed off and the teeth are dried again
- The sealant is painted on each tooth being treated. A curing light might be needed to harden it
Each application of sealant can protect a person's teeth from decay for up to 10 years. It is best to have them checked during dental checkups twice a year so follow-up applications can be applied when needed.
It only takes a few minutes
Getting dental sealants only requires a short visit to the clinic, yet it keeps your teeth protected from decay for decades. Stop by our Seattle clinic and give your teeth some extra care with sealants.
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