Dental sealants are a preventive measure used to protect tooth surfaces that are susceptible to decay. In the molar region of a patient’s mouth (molars are the back teeth where most of our chewing takes place) the portion of the tooth used for chewing is relatively rough and filled with pits and fissures. Food and other debris get caught in these irregularities and when combined with the bacteria in your mouth this starts the decay process.
Dental sealant placement is a quick and painless procedure. After the target tooth is cleaned, a gel is applied to the chewing surface and then washed off. The tooth is then dried completely and the plastic sealant material is painted on the tooth surface making sure that the material flows into the grooves of the tooth. It takes about a minute for the material to harden with the help of a light cure. The occlusal surface of your tooth is the portion used for chewing your food. Applying the dental sealant to these areas does not diminish the chewing effectiveness of the tooth, but it does make these surfaces far easier to clean during your regular brushings and helps prevent decay from developing in these areas.
We know that fluoride helps prevent decay and helps protect our enamel from possible decay. Dental sealants go one step further. They provide extra protection for the teeth by covering the pits and fissures and therefor stopping food from getting lodged in these grooves. Dental sealants have proven to be a safe and cost-effective dental procedure for patients prone to cavities. Children and teenagers are prime candidates for this treatment because their brushing habits are frequently not up to par. Adults that are susceptible to decay or have very deep grooves in their teeth will also benefit greatly from dental sealant placement.
Dental sealants can last as long as 5 to 10 years and should be checked routinely during your regular dental check-up. They are a covered benefit by most medical aids, but it is always a good idea to check your specific dental plan prior to treatment. If you are looking for a minimally invasive, safe and effective way to prevent or reduce tooth decay, dental sealants should be considered.