Some teeth, especially molars, benefit from dental sealants if they have deep grooves or pits that are hard to reach and completely clean with your toothbrush bristles. Dental sealants are easy for a dentist to apply and act as a barrier, protecting your enamel from the damaging effects of plaque and acids. Dental sealants are most often applied to the chewing surfaces of your back teeth–molars and premolars–where decay commonly accrues. Dental sealants are particularly effective in children and teenagers since the likelihood of developing pit and fissure decay begins early in life, but adults can enjoy benefits from dental sealants as well.
A sealant is a thin plastic coating (usually clear or white in color) that is applied to the chewing surface of your tooth, to “sealing out” food, plaque, and bacteria. Sealants prevent the need for dental fillings, and are easily applied without drilling to the enamel or dentin. Dental sealants offer invisible benefits, but remarkable defensive power. The ease of application may make you question the difference they can make, but sealants can make all the difference between a healthy tooth and a diseased tooth.
Dental sealants provide a barrier between your tooth and the sugars that come in contact with it. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), “sealant placement in children and adolescents has shown a reduction of cavities’ incidence [by] 86 percent after one year and 58 percent after four years.” Despite your good efforts at daily good oral hygiene, toothbrush bristles just cannot reach certain areas and grooves in your teeth. Deep depressions and teeth grooves entrap food particles allow plaque to accumulate. Sugars in your food your eat produce acids that eat away at your tooth enamel. Repeated attacks from food acids cause your enamel to weaken and break causing a cavity (or hole) in the tooth surface.
Dental sealants are especially effective for children. Children are more prone to cavities because of the natural shape of growing teeth. When first molars arrive around age 6, deep crevices called “pits and fissures” form on the chewing surfaces of back teeth. Dental sealants prevent pit and fissure cavities in children. The national oral health expectations for dental sealants, as stated in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2020, include increasing the number of children and teens who receive dental sealants. Although sealants are typically recommended for children and teenagers, they offer preventative benefits for adult patients with no tooth decay or fillings in their back teeth. Prevention keeps your oral health in optimum shape.
Dental sealant placement is quick and painless. No numbing medications are needed. The dental sealants procedure takes just a few minutes. A member of our Hardy Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics team will first clean your teeth and then apply a solution to the chewing surface to prime the enamel for sealing. Following this application, the sealing will be painted onto your enamel. Typically the sealant will dry on its own, but often we will use a curing light to accelerate the setting process. Once the sealant is set, you can resume normal eating and drinking. Sealants last between 5-10 years with regular cleanings and attention to good oral hygiene.
Take steps to prevent oral health problems and conditions by having dental sealants applied to your teeth. This simple step can keep cavities and decay from attacking the vital structures of your teeth. Safeguard your smile today! Hardy Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics can help your child develop a healthy, functional, and attractive smile. To learn more about our children’s dental services or to schedule an appointment, call our Erie office today at 720-887-6003.