Your dentist at Peace Haven Family Dentistry has a few tools that can help prevent cavities.
Dental sealants have been effectively used in dental practices since the 1970s. So while regular brushing and flossing are the two best ways to help prevent cavities, it’s often difficult to skillfully clean your back teeth. The chewing surfaces of your molars are filled with grooves (fissures) and pockets that your toothbrush can’t easily reach. Dental sealants are a great application to help prevent the buildup of bacteria that can lead to cavities.
What Is a Dental Sealant?
A dental sealant is a thin, protective, plastic-based coating that adheres to the chewing surfaces of your back teeth. Dental sealants can be clear, white or have a slight tint, depending on the type of sealant used. A sealant can prevent cavities from forming and possibly prohibit the early stages of tooth decay from developing into a cavity.
Studies have shown that dental sealants can reduce the risk of tooth decay by nearly 80% in molars. And according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), school-age children who did not receive dental sealants are nearly three times more likely to have cavities than children who did receive sealants.
How Do Dental Sealants Work?
The chewing surfaces of your teeth are very vulnerable to decay—especially if you have more grooves and pits in your teeth. When food particles come in contact with the bacteria in your mouth, acids are created that can eventually form a hole in your tooth—a cavity.
When a dental sealant is applied to your tooth surface, it creates a barrier and stops the bacteria and acids from adhering to your teeth. And while fluoride-based toothpaste, oral rinses, and treatments go far in protecting your teeth, dental sealants take it a step further. Once the protective coating of a dental sealant is in place, it provides added protection for all of those grooves and pits.
Who Can Get Dental Sealants?
Typically toddlers, younger children, and pre-teens are the ideal candidates for dental sealants. You Peace Haven dentist or dental hygienist can seal each new tooth as it breaks through the gum line. This treatment can help prevent cavities from forming for several years. The sooner you receive a sealant, the better you can maintain the health of your teeth or your child’s teeth.
Sometimes we may recommend applying a dental sealant on baby teeth, especially if they have deeper depressions and grooves. It’s important to keep baby teeth healthy and intact because they act as a placeholder for the adult teeth that will eventually grow in.
How Are Dental Sealants Applied?
After your scheduled cleaning, dental sealants can be easily painted on the chewing surfaces of your teeth during a regular dental visit. It’s quick and absolutely pain free. After the application, your Peace Haven dentist or dental hygienist will use a special blue light to cure, or harden, the sealant onto your tooth surfaces. The sealant then quickly bonds with the depressions and grooves in your teeth, forming a protective layer over the delicate tooth enamel.
Once the dental sealant is adhered to your teeth, you can resume all normal eating and drinking.
How Long Do Sealants Last?
Dental sealants can often last for several years before needing reapplication. Your dentist or dental hygienist can check on the condition of your sealant during each dental visit. If they seem to be wearing or chipping, then we can apply a little more sealant to strengthen the bond.
Do Adults Need Dental Sealants?
Yes, Dental sealants can sometimes be used for adults who may have very deep grooves that pose an extra risk for cavities and tooth decay.
Should I Still Use Fluoride if I Have Dental Sealants?
Yes. Dental sealants only provide protection to your chewing surfaces. So you’ll still need to use a fluoride toothpaste and oral rinse to protect all surfaces of your teeth.