If you’ve undergone a recent dental procedure, you might have undergone a sealant treatment that many patients are unfamiliar with. Sealants are thin layers of plastic applied to the tooth’s surface, reducing tooth decay and safeguarding the underlying tooth.

Upon application, sealants quickly adhere to the tooth’s surface. This plastic coating is a protective barrier for the enamel covering the chewing and grinding surfaces, typically applied to flatter back teeth like molars and premolars. This precautionary measure shields these teeth from bacterial buildup in the spaces between the cusps, areas where brushing and flossing may not be as effective.

While regular oral care removes most food and sugar particles, the rear teeth, due to their anatomy, can be susceptible to buildup. Sealants act as a preventive measure by “sealing” the tooth and preventing this buildup from contacting the enamel.

Although applying sealants is straightforward, it’s not universally recommended for all patients. Typically, dentists opt to place sealants on children and teenagers, mainly when they first develop premolars and molars. This proactive approach aims to protect their teeth when they are more susceptible to cavities. However, dentists may also consider applying sealants to the molars of adults with tooth decay or existing fillings.

In certain situations, dentists may place sealants on a patient’s baby teeth to promote their health and contribute to the proper development of adult teeth. Preserving baby teeth is crucial for maintaining adequate spacing for subsequent adult teeth, and early loss of baby teeth may necessitate additional measures for proper spacing or alignment when the adult teeth emerge.

The process of applying sealants is relatively quick and entirely painless. However, ensuring proper sealant placement involves following steps to guarantee effective adherence to the teeth and prevent the sealing in of any bacteria.

  • Thorough cleaning – The teeth slated for sealing must be thoroughly cleaned to eliminate any cavity-causing bacteria. It prevents bacteria from being trapped beneath the sealant and provides an optimal surface for the sealant to bond to.
  • Drying the tooth – A dry tooth is essential for proper sealant adhesion. Each tooth is carefully dried, and a piece of cotton or another material is placed around it to maintain a moisture-free environment.
  • Surface roughening – The smooth surface of the tooth is not conducive to sealant adhesion. An acid solution is applied to roughen the tooth’s texture, providing increased surface area for the sealant to cling to effectively.
  • Rinsing and drying – The tooth is then rinsed and dried to remove the acid solution thoroughly.
  • Applying the sealant – The sealant is brushed onto the tooth enamel, creating a bond with the tooth. In some cases, a special light may cure the sealant, further enhancing the hardening of the protective coating.

Sealants have a limited lifespan and are typically designed to endure for approximately ten years. Nevertheless, certain individuals may experience chipping or wearing down of their sealants before the designated timeframe. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain regular dental visits to allow for periodic inspections of the sealants and prompt correction of any potential issues that may arise.

Dental sealants offer an effective means of adding an extra protective layer to your teeth. By applying a thin plastic coating to the enamel of molars and premolars, sealants create a barrier that prevents sugars and bacteria from coming into direct contact with the tooth’s surface. If you’re contemplating the potential benefits of sealants, contact us today to arrange an appointment and determine if they suit you.