Have you noticed the shape of your teeth all the way in the back – your molars? When you take a look at them in the mirror, you will realize that they are not flat on top, but have many tiny grooves and crevices on the chewing surface. These help in chewing and biting down, but are also a trap for food, plaque and bacteria. Although brushing and flossing is the first line of defense against cavities, it is difficult for your brush to reach these minuscule depressions and crannies which is exactly where decay begins.
So you must be wondering what can be done to protect these vulnerable surfaces from cavities? The answer is dental sealant. Lets find out more about sealants – what they are and how they benefit us.
What is a dental sealant?
A dental sealant is a thin coating applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth to protect them from decay. It can be sometimes applied to the tongue surfaces on the upper front teeth as well. It seals the grooves and fissures and acts as a barrier against harmful cavity-forming bacteria. Research studies have shown the importance of sealant as they significantly reduce the risk of decay in molars. They are made from plastic or other dental material similar to it.
You should still keep your oral hygiene regimen intact as sealants act as a helper and cannot replace brushing and flossing.
How do sealants help?
Sealants are applied on the chewing surface of the back teeth by a special process which bonds them to the grooves. It prevents plaque and resultant acid produced by harmful bacteria from coming in contact with the enamel of these pits and fissures by sealing them. You can think of them similar to laminating an important paper document with plastic.
So what are the benefits of sealants?
1. Prevent cavities
This is the most obvious benefit of sealants. Since they form a protective coating over the tooth and prevent food and plaque from accumulating in the crevices of the tooth, the surface of the tooth will not come in contact with acids produced by harmful bacteria. Thus they will not be decayed.
2. Prevention of oral health issues is better than cure
Cavities are just the tip of oral health issues. Once a tooth decays; some amount of tooth structure is destroyed along with it. As it gets a filling, the carious tooth structure needs to be removed; the health of the tooth is compromised. Over a period of time, these fillings can get more decay underneath needing refilling or a cap called a dental crown. Sometimes, large fillings are close to the nerve of the tooth, affecting it over time and require root canal treatment. It is best to avoid cavities, thus keeping teeth in a natural state. Thus sealants improve the overall health of your teeth and gums.
3. Wise investment
Getting fillings, crowns or root canals is expensive. So sealants can save a lot of money for you and are a wise investment in the long run. What you spend on sealants in much less compared to other treatments. They can last for years and help you avoid needing other treatments.
4. Time saver
Dental procedures take time. You have to take out time from your schedule to be treated for fillings or other treatments which can be a result of cavities. Sealant treatment, on the other hand, is very quick and it takes only a few minutes to apply them in a single visit. Since sealants prevent cavities, you end up saving a considerable amount of time and effort.
5. Simplified solution
Although advances in dental pain management have made dental treatment painless, yet a lot of people feel anxious about visiting a dentist. This is especially true for children. So for such adults and kids who fear to go to the dentist, sealants are the easier solution
What is the process of sealant application?
Placing sealant is an extremely simple and quick process. You can compare it with putting nail polish.
Your dentist will first clean and dry the teeth to be sealed. Next, an acidic gel is applied to the tooth which is kept for a few seconds. This gel etches or roughens up the surface of the tooth which creates micro porosities in which the sealant flows to create a strong bond with the tooth. Next, the gel is rinsed out, the tooth is dried and the sealant is painted on the tooth. A special blue light is used to harden the sealant. It takes a few minutes to finish the entire process which is absolutely painless.
At your regular dental visit, your dentist will check to make sure the sealant is intact. Sometimes over the course of time due to the forces exerted by chewing as well as due to chewing on sticky food, the sealant can wear out or come off, in which case it is reapplied.
Who can benefit from sealants?
Children, as well as adults, can benefit from sealants. Around age 6 the first permanent molars start to come into the mouth and second molars erupt around age 12. So if sealants are applied as soon as they erupt chances of them getting cavities are less.
That being said sealants are not for kids alone. Adults can benefit too, especially whose molar have deep sticky grooves which can become a trap for plaque and vulnerable to acid attack from bacteria.
Get dental sealants at Signature Smiles
If you think you or your child might be a good candidate for dental sealants, call us today and make an appointment with our dentists