What are Dental Sealants?
A dental sealant is a thin plastic material used to protect the chewing surfaces of the teeth. It is generally applied to decay-prone surfaces of the teeth – usually the back molars and pre-molars of children. Sealants come in liquid form that quickly hardens to form a shield over these chewing surfaces.
The prevalence of sealants in children’s and adolescent’s teeth has increased since the early 1970s.
Why Get Sealants?
Since the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are typically rough and uneven with small pits and grooves, this becomes the ideal place for cavities to start. Food and germs can get stuck in these uneven areas and stay there a long time because toothbrush bristles cannot always brush them away. Germs in the mouth change the sugar in food to acid which can start a cavity in the tooth. Sealants keep out the germs and food from these areas that cause tooth decay.
When Should Sealants Be Placed?
Children should get sealants on their permanent molars as soon as the teeth come in – before decay has a chance to attack the teeth. Sealants also protect worn and sensitive surfaces on adult teeth since adults can still get decay.
How Are Sealants Put On?
First, the tooth is cleaned & dried thoroughly so the surface is easier for the sealant to bond to. The tooth is rinsed and dried once more and the sealant is then applied in liquid form and hardens in a few seconds with a special dental light. Freezing and drilling are not required.
Besides Sealants, Are There Other Ways To Prevent Tooth Decay?
Yes! The best way you can help prevent tooth decay is to brush with fluoride toothpaste, drink fluoridated water, and floss regularly. Sealants and fluoride used together provide the best defence against tooth decay.