Tooth sealants are thin coats of resin applied to the tooth surfaces featuring deep grooves, such as molars and premolars. The bristles of your toothbrush may be able to reach into these deep grooves (known as fissures and pits), but they are unable to create the back and forth brushing motion necessary to dislodge food particles and bacteria. So, it’s no surprise that roughly 75% of all instances of tooth decay appear in the deep grooves of molars and premolars. Dental sealants prove to be highly effective in preventing tooth decay on the biting surfaces of these cavity-prone teeth.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dental sealants reduce incidences of cavities by upwards of 80% for the first two years following application. Sealants remain effective four years after treatment, reducing incidences of cavities by up to 50%.
Sealants fill in and even out the deep grooves of the teeth, protecting the tooth from decay-causing bacteria. Instead of deep grooves, the sealant creates a smooth surface that is much easier to brush and keep clean. Your sealants will provide years of protection, but they are not a permanent solution and should be examined regularly through dental checkups.
Sealants may be commonly associated with kids and teenagers, but patients of all ages can benefit from dental sealants. Sealants are most often recommended for patients with some or all of their permanent teeth (ages 6 years and up). In certain situations, the dentist may recommend sealants on baby teeth, mostly in cases where child is especially prone to cavities.
Before the dentist or hygienist applies the sealant, the surface of the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, sterilized, and dried. A prophylaxis (prophy cup) is used to clean the grooves, pits, embrasures, and fossa of the tooth. This is done using a non-fluoride pumice to thoroughly remove particles and bacteria from the teeth. The tooth surface is then rinsed and dried with a suction tube. An etching gel is then applied to lightly etch the surface of the tooth so it can form a high-strength bond with the sealant. The tooth is again rinsed, dried, and a thin layer of sealant resin is applied to the surface. The sealant may then be cured with a UV light (not required for some types of sealants).
Some home care is required to ensure your sealants last. While sealants can last upwards of 10 years, you should attend regular checkups to ensure your sealants remain intact. Proper care at home and eating a balanced diet will also help in extending the life of your new sealants.
Shore Smiles Dental offers dental sealants alongside our preventive dentistry services, such as comprehensive dental exams and cleanings. To get started, schedule an appointment with Shore Smiles Dental today!