Dental Sealants: When They Are Recommended And Their Benefits

Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) to prevent tooth decay. The sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and grooves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel. But when are these sealants recommended and what do they offer? Let’s dive into that.

What is a Dental Sealant?

Think of a dental sealant as a mini raincoat for your teeth. When the cavity-causing bacteria that live in everyone’s mouth meet leftover food particles, they produce acids that can create holes in teeth. These holes are cavities. After sealant has been applied, it keeps those bits of food out and stops bacteria and acid from settling on your teeth.

When is Dental Sealant Recommended?

The earlier you get them, the better. Sealants are often recommended for children and teenagers, as soon as their permanent molars and premolars come in, so the sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.

The Benefits of Dental Sealants

Sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants.”

The Application Process

Applying the sealant is a quick and painless process. Here are the steps:

  • The teeth that are going to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned.
  • Each tooth is then dried, and cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry.
  • An acid solution is put on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to roughen them up, which helps the sealant bond to the teeth.
  • The teeth are then rinsed and dried.
  • The sealant is then painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens.

How Long Do Sealants Last?

Sealants can protect teeth from decay for many years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wear at regular dental check-ups.

Remember, while sealants can prevent cavities, it’s still important to maintain good oral hygiene – that means brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, cleaning between the teeth daily with floss or another interdental cleaner, and eating a balanced diet.

Consult with your dentist to determine if dental sealants are a good option for you or your child. They can provide personalized advice based on your specific oral health needs.

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