Other than brushing your teeth and flossing every day, there used to be little recourse for preventing tooth decay. However, dental sealants became available in the mid-20th century and have provided an effective defense against cavities ever since.
Sealants continue to be an excellent way to protect teeth from decay, especially in children. Let’s look at what sealants are and how they work to help prevent cavities.
How Dental Sealants Work
A dental sealant is a thin protective plastic layer that covers the tooth from developing decay. A sealant protects the tooth from plaque, which can attack the enamel and create a cavity.
A sealant is painted by the dentist on the top surface of the teeth, usually the back teeth – the part of the tooth that is responsible for chewing. The thin plastic material binds to the grooves and crevices of the teeth.
The grooves on the molars and premolars are called fissures, and bacteria and plaque can easily build up inside the fissures due to leftover food particles sitting in the teeth. These crevices are prone to decay due to acids from the bacteria.
Protecting Children’s Teeth
Dental sealants are an effective tool for preventing cavities and decay particularly in children. A child’s teeth are more susceptible to cavities than are teeth in adults.
As kids lose their baby teeth, and permanent teeth emerge, it is a good idea to cover them with sealants as quickly as possible as a preventive measure. This will help protect those permanent teeth by sealing out food debris and plaque.
Pediatric Dental Treatments
Pediatric dentists may also consider dental sealants for baby teeth, if a child is proving to have difficulty keeping their teeth clean. Like permanent teeth, primary teeth can also have grooves and crevices that are deep.
Primary teeth play an important role as placeholders for the permanent teeth, guiding them as they come into place. Keeping baby teeth healthy is essential to ensure that they don’t fall out prematurely, and also for the good health of the permanent teeth that replace them.
Are Sealants Only for Children?
Adults can also benefit from sealants. Your dentist may suggest sealants for your molars if they’re free of fillings and without decay.
Private health insurance companies usually cover sealants for kids, but adults may find that the treatment is an out-of-pocket expense. Patients without insurance can benefit from Family & Cosmetic Dentistry’s annual reduced-fee savings plan. We also accept Care Credit.
How Dental Sealants Are Applied
The dental sealant application process is completely painless and involves a minimal amount of time. The patient first receives a thorough professional cleaning in order to ensure that all bacteria have been removed.
Following the cleaning, the dentist or hygienist will dry the tooth completely. The next step involves roughening the surface with an acid solution, which also assists with bonding.
The acid is rinsed from the teeth and dried again, and the sealant is then painted on. The sealant bonds directly to the enamel of the teeth; it is then cured with a light to harden the sealant. The sealant should last up to 10 years.
Dentist in St. Paul
Family & Cosmetic Dentistry has been serving the Twin Cities for over three decades, providing excellent dental care for families like yours.
Call us today to schedule an appointment at (651) 646-2392, or fill out our appointment request form. We look forward to helping you enjoy excellent dental health for a lifetime.