What are sealants?
Sealants are a safe and painless way of protecting your teeth from tooth decay. A sealant is a protective plastic coating, which is applied to the biting surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant forms a hard shield that keeps food and bacteria from getting into the tiny grooves in the teeth and causing decay.
Sealants are only applied to the back teeth – the molars and premolars. These are the teeth that have ‘pits’ (small hollows) and ‘fissures’ (grooves) on their biting surfaces. Your dental team will tell you which teeth should be sealed after they have examined them, and checked whether the fissures are deep enough for sealing to help. Some teeth naturally have deep grooves which will need to be sealed; others have shallow ones which will not need sealing.
Who Should Get them?
Because of the likelihood of developing decay in the depressions and grooves of the premolars and molars, children and teenagers are candidates for sealants. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.
Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14.
In some cases, dental sealants may also be appropriate for baby teeth, such as when a child’s baby teeth have deep depressions and grooves. Because baby teeth play such an important role in holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth, it’s important to keep these teeth healthy so they are not lost too early.
How Are Sealants Applied?
Applying sealant at Solar Dental in Grand Prairie is a simple and painless process. It takes only a few minutes for your dentist or hygienist to apply the sealant to seal each tooth. The application steps are as follows:
- First the teeth that are to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned.
- Each tooth is then dried, and cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry.
- An acid solution is put on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to roughen them up, which helps the sealant bond to the teeth.
- The teeth are then rinsed and dried.
- Sealant is then painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.
How Long Do They Last?
Sealants at Solar Dental in Grand Prairie can protect teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wearing at regular dental check-ups. Your dentist can replace sealants as necessary.
How do pit and fissure sealants work?
The sealant forms a smooth, protective barrier by covering all the little grooves and dips in the surface of the tooth. Dental decay easily starts in these grooves if they are not sealed.
When should this be done?
Sealants are often applied as soon as the first permanent teeth start to come through. This is usually between 6 and 7 years of age. The rest are usually sealed as soon as they appear which can be any time between 11 and 14 years of age.
Do I still have to clean my teeth?
Yes. It is still very important to do this. The smooth, sealed surface is now much easier to keep clean and healthy with normal brushing. Using a fluoride toothpaste, last thing at night and at least one other time during the day, will help to protect your teeth. Pit and fissure sealing reduces tooth decay and the number of fillings you might need.
Are Dental Sealants Just for Children?
Since children may not always brush their teeth properly, they may be more likely to get cavities. For this reason, dental sealants are often recommended for children. Generally, sealants are applied to a child’s adult molars as soon as they come in around age six. In some cases, dentists may even recommend sealants for baby teeth if the child is prone to decay.
But adults may be candidates for dental sealants too. Some people are more cavity-prone than others, so sealants may be an option worth considering. No matter what the age, it is good to know the pros and cons of sealants.
Are Dental Sealants Safe?
Especially when considering a procedure for children, safety is always a concern. When talking about the pros and cons of sealants, the subject of BPA is sometimes raised. BPA is a synthetic compound found in many plastics. Studies have shown that exposure to large amounts can be harmful.
Since sealants are made of plastic and may contain trace amounts of BPA, they are sometimes thought to be unsafe. But the amounts of BPA in sealants are tiny. Research by The American Dental Association shows that the amounts are well below anything that could be harmful. In fact, people are exposed to more BPA in their day-to-day lives than they are through sealants.
You can discuss your concerns with your dentist There are some BPA-free sealants on the market that may be an option.
Are they Expensive?
Cost is another important issue when deciding on the pros and cons of sealants. Some dental insurance plans cover them for children. Even if you are paying out of pocket, getting dental sealants is usually less expensive than getting a filling. And if you have multiple cavities over time, those costs can add up. You may decide that a one-time application of a sealant is more cost-effective alternative.
Are Sealants the Right Choice?
Before deciding if they are right for you or your child, you will want to weigh these pros and cons.
If someone is at low risk of tooth decay, they may not have a need for sealants. This would include people with good diets and exceptional oral hygiene. And some people have relatively smooth teeth, with shallow grooves. Food particles are easily brushed away and they’re not prone to cavities.
For many, though, the minimal cost and discomfort is an effective alternative to the possibility of cavities down the road.
We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today.