Dental sealants are thin plastic coats that are applied to the biting surfaces of a person's teeth. They can be used on any tooth, but they are mostly used on the premolars and molars since these are the most susceptible to tooth decay. When applied, the sealant adheres to the pits and grooves on the person's teeth, forming a layer of protection over the enamel of the tooth it is used on.
Brushing and flossing are effective ways to remove food particles and plaque from teeth surfaces, but it can be difficult to clean all the grooves on the teeth that are in the back of the mouth. Getting the bristles of a toothbrush to these areas or flossing them properly takes some skill.
Children do not always have the required brushing and flossing expertise required to keep these areas properly cleaned, which makes their teeth susceptible to decay. The fact that these are primary teeth does not make much of a difference since they are equally as important as permanent teeth. Milk teeth hold the place of the permanent teeth that come behind them, and one falling out early can lead to teeth alignment issues. Dental sealants can be used to protect these areas and prevent food particles and bacteria from accumulating on them.
Why dental sealants are great for children
Children and teenagers are more likely to deal with tooth decay on their molars and premolars, so that makes them great candidates for a dental sealant. These products are also recommended for adults who tend to be vulnerable to tooth decay.
Dentists recommend getting dental sealants for children as soon as their permanent premolars and molars erupt. This gives the child an increased level of protection during the years the child is most susceptible to decay (ages 7-14) Dental sealants can also be safely applied to baby teeth. This is usually done if the tooth has deep grooves and depressions, since it is easy for bacteria and food particles to build up in these spaces.
What to expect when getting dental sealants applied
Getting dental sealants on a person's teeth is a painless and quick process. It only takes minutes for a dentist to paint the sealant on the biting surfaces of the teeth being treated. The process looks like this:
- The patient's teeth are cleaned and dried. An absorbent material like cotton is put around the tooth to help maintain the dryness
- An acid is used to roughen up the surfaces of the patient's teeth. This process is known as etching, and it makes it easier for the sealant to stick to the teeth it is applied to
- The patient's teeth are rinsed and dried afterward
- The sealant is painted on the patient's tooth using a brush. It hardens on the tooth's surfaces when exposed to air. In some cases, a curing light is used for this
Sealants can protect teeth for up to a decade!
A dental sealant can keep decay at bay for over 10 years. It can protect you and your child for even longer when you regularly get it touched up. Stop by our clinic to learn more about this preventative dental treatment.
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