Dental sealants act as a barrier, protecting the teeth against decay-causing bacteria. The sealants are usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where decay occurs most often.
How does a sealant help prevent decay?
A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. This plastic resin bonds into the pits and fissures of the chewing surfaces of those teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids.
Which teeth should be sealed?
The teeth that are the most prone to dental decay are the molar surfaces, whose architecture creates deep pits and fissures. These pits and fissures are difficult to cleanse and allow for bacteria to form. As a result, dental decay occurs.
Is sealant application a complicated procedure?
Sealants are easy for your dentist or hygienist to apply, and it takes only a few minutes to seal each tooth. The teeth that will be sealed are cleaned. Then the chewing surfaces are roughened with an acid solution to help the sealant adhere to the tooth. The 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 sealants last?
Sealants can last a long time if properly cared for. This is a team approach. In order to create a long lasting sealant, it is important that a healthy diet and proper homecare is continually maintained. The goal is to protect your child through the cavity prone years.
As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and usually last several years before a reapplication is needed. During your regular dental visits, your dentist will check the condition of the sealants and reapply them when necessary.
Care & Maintenance of Sealants
It is important to brush all surfaces of your teeth, even the areas that have been recently sealed. In addition, it is important to avoid all chewy and sticky snacks, as well as foods and beverages that increase the acid level in the mouth. These include: regular and diet soda pop, Vitamin water, excessive amounts of juice, and any beverages that contain citric acid.
For more information, please visit: The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.