Teeth are full of nooks and crannies. Bacteria and debris get caught in these tricky places and eat away at teeth. While there are many dental procedures for cleaning these gaps thoroughly and even for correcting cavity damage, it is neither practical nor wise to visit the dentist every day, and having to clean up after cavities is not as fun as not getting them in the first place. That’s where dental sealants come in.
What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are a thin coat of specialized plastic that is painted on to teeth. They serve as a protective barrier, preventing cavity formation. Sealants are most commonly placed on the back molars because they have such a wide surface area with a dramatic topography. Getting dental sealants is a straightforward and painless process that can help completely defer the need for cavity correction.
How Is a Tooth Sealed?
A tooth must be cleaned and dried before any sealant is added. The dentist will thoroughly clean each tooth being sealed before and after adding a gentle etching solution. This solution, usually a gel, roughens up the surface of the tooth being sealed, giving the sealant a way to actually adhere.
Once teeth have been etched, cleaned, and dried, the dentist will paint dental sealant onto them. The curing process is dependent on the sealant used. Some harden on their own after a minute or two. Other sealants must be cured with a light which a dentist or dental hygienist shines on the tooth in the affected area.
Cured sealants can be white, clear, or slightly tinted depending on their composition. They are barely noticeable, but once a sealant has cured, it will effectively block food particles and bacteria from eating away at the teeth.
Are Dental Sealants Worth It?
According to the CDC, “dental sealants protect against 80% of cavities for 2 years and continue to protect against 50% of cavities for up to 4 years.” That kind of protection is well worth the risk, especially because brushing and flossing can only clean out so much bacteria from the contours of teeth.
Are Sealants Better Than Fillings?
Sealants are preventative while fillings are corrective. Preventing cavities in the first place is less expensive and more convenient than repairing them. Getting dental sealants is not a painful process, and doing so causes less discomfort than experienced when cleaning out a cavity and getting a filling.
How Long Do They Last?
A good sealant can last for many years, though it is possible for sealants to fall off or be damaged. The replacement process is an easy one, just like having them added in the first place. Regular dental checkups can monitor the status of sealants and notice if they become ineffective.
When Do You Need Dental Sealants?
Speaking candidly, many people go their whole lives without getting sealants on their teeth. However, neglecting to do so is a gamble, and the earlier individuals get dental sealants, the sooner their teeth receive extra fortification against cavities.
Dental sealants are best applied to permanent teeth. These can appear as early as middle childhood. Incidentally, children ages 6 to 14 are the best candidates for sealants as still-developing dental hygiene habits leave them particularly vulnerable to cavities. However, there is not a bad time to improve protection for your teeth. Better late than never, they do say.
Dental Sealants at Covington Dental Arts
At Covington Dental Arts, we are committed to preserving our patients’ teeth. We offer many top-of-the-line procedures to do so, and adding dental sealants is high on that list. If you want to protect your teeth from cavity development and make dental care more manageable overall, come and see us.