How Do Sealants Protect My Teeth?
Once the baby teeth fall out and the permanent set comes in, they’re meant to last a lifetime. However, for that to happen with little to no complication, regular visits to the dentist and proper oral care at home should be practiced. Additional treatments may also be necessary, such as dental sealants for teeth.
What is a Dental Sealant?
A dental sealant is a thin coating of plastic that’s applied to the back molars and premolars, the two primary chewing surfaces of the teeth.
The sealants are often white or clear and can’t be seen when talking.
Why Is It Applied?
Dental professionals recommend sealants to protect from bacteria and in turn, tooth decay.
Dental sealants are usually applied as soon as the chewing surface of the tooth erupts, which usually happens in children between the ages of six and twelve. However, the procedure is not exclusive to young children, as teenagers and even adults can still benefit from dental sealants if their teeth begin showing signs of tooth decay.
How Do Sealants Work?
The molar and premolar teeth have grooves or so-called fissures that make them much more susceptible to tooth decay than other teeth. This is because the fissures are often deep and much harder to clean. The fissures can also be a bit too narrow, even for the thinnest bristles of a toothbrush. And, it is in these narrow, deep spaces that plaque tends to accumulate, leading to the development of cavities.
Brushing with fluoride toothpaste helps prevent decay and protect these areas, even if the toothbrush itself won’t be able to reach them. However, while the application of dental sealants is not a mandatory procedure, it does help provide an added layer of protection by covering the fissured area with a smooth surface.
While mostly applied to the primary chewing surfaces of the teeth, dental sealants can be applied to other permanent teeth, provided they have grooves or pits.
Depending on the recommendation of your dentist, areas other than the back molars and premolars can be good candidates for dental sealants.
What to Expect During the Procedure
The process of placing dental sealants involves little to no pain. It typically involves the following steps:
- The dentist first polishes the surface of the teeth to remove any food particles, such as plaque and food debris. The tooth is then isolated and allowed to dry. After this, the surface of the tooth is etched, rinsed off, and then dried again.
- Using a brush, the dentist will then apply the dental sealant material to the tooth’s surface. A curing light will help make sure that the sealant bonds tightly to the tooth surface.
- Last, but not least, the dentist will check if the dental sealant has been placed properly. Once the sealant has hardened into a plastic coating, you can now use the tooth to chew again as you normally would.
While dental sealants are a very effective means of preventing tooth decay and gum disease, it’s only an additional means of prevention.
The most effective means of preventing tooth decay, as well as other dental complications is still to brush one’s teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, floss before sleeping, and of course, regularly visit the dentist for professional cleanings and check-ups.
If you feel that you may benefit from dental sealants, contact Tory Hill Dental at 207-929-6626 to schedule a consultation today or visit toryhilldental.com for more information.