What You Should Know About Dental Sealants
While we are young, it is very important to take care of our teeth and prevent tooth decay. But sometimes, the natural make-up of our teeth is such that there is a big gap between the chewing teeth that may harbor bacteria.
Dental sealant is a thin plastic coating that is placed on the molars and premolars – the chewing surface of the back teeth, to protect it from dental caries or tooth decay. Tooth decay usually occurs in childhood and teenage years on the surfaces of these teeth.
The Need for Dental Sealant
The molars and premolars have grooves in between which make them susceptible to dental caries. These grooves or spaces can go in deep and they are difficult to clean even with a single bristle of your toothbrush. These hard to reach areas are the favorite places of plaques. Acid from bacterial activity destroys the tooth’s enamel and cavities may develop. Fluoride can help with the protection and dental sealants can provide extra protection for these areas by covering them.
When to Place Dental Sealant
It is suggested to have dental sealants placed during the first permanent molar tooth. Sealants are placed on molars and premolars because they have the deepest fissures. Adults can also be at risk for tooth decay so they will also require sealants to prevent dental caries.
Dental sealants are placed after the tooth has erupted beyond the gums.
How Dental Sealants are Applied
Sealant application is a painless process. It only takes a few minutes for your dentist to apply a sealant to your tooth.
- Before sealing the tooth, it is cleaned thoroughly.
- Tooth is dried and cotton is placed around the tooth to keep it dry before the procedure.
- The chewing surfaces of the tooth are roughened up by placing an acid solution. This will help the sealant bond with your tooth.
- Tooth is rinsed and then dried again.
- The sealant is applied to the enamel of the tooth where it can bond directly and harden. A special curing light may be used to harden the sealant.
Sealants can protect the teeth for up to a decade. However, it is important to visit your dentist for regular check-up since the sealants need to be checked for wear and tear. If necessary, your dentist can replace the sealant.
Even with dental sealants, fluoride use is still advised. Sealants only protect the surface area where they are placed but fluoride is the one responsible for protecting the entire tooth from dental caries.