A Comprehensive Guide to Teeth Sealants
Dental sealants date back to the 1960s. American dentists Michael Buonocore and Raphael Bowen introduced the concept of dental sealants as a preventive measure against tooth decay. Their pioneering work led to the development of the first dental sealant.
Over the years, advancements in dental materials and technology have refined teeth sealants‘ composition and application techniques, making them an integral part of modern preventative dentistry.
Understanding Teeth Sealants
Dental sealants are thin coatings, usually made of resin-based or glass ionomer materials, employed for the chewing parts of molars and premolars. The composition of these sealants is designed to create a protective barrier over the pits and fissures of the teeth. This prevents bacteria and food particles from settling in these vulnerable areas.
How Dental Sealants Work to Protect Against Decay
The primary purpose of dental sealants is to provide a physical barrier that seals off the deep grooves and crevices on the molars and premolars. These areas are particularly susceptible to the accumulation of plaque and bacteria, leading to the development of cavities.
Applying sealants reduces the risk of decay as the protective layer prevents the infiltration of harmful substances.
Types of Sealants: Resin-Based vs. Glass Ionomer
These are the most commonly used sealants and are composed of a plastic-like material known as resin. Resin-based sealants bond well with the tooth surface, creating a durable and effective barrier against decay.
Glass Ionomer Sealants
This type of sealant releases fluoride over time, providing an additional protective effect. Glass ionomer sealants are preferred for individuals with a higher risk of cavities due to their fluoride-releasing properties.
Am I an Ideal Candidate for Teeth Sealants?
Dental sealants are great for protecting your teeth from decay, but they’re not for everyone. Wondering if they’re right for you? Here’s what to think about:
Your dentist examines your teeth to determine whether they have deep grooves or pits that could develop cavities. If they do, dental sealants can add an extra layer of protection and stop bacteria from causing trouble.
Kids and teens with new permanent molars can benefit from getting sealants. These teeth are more likely to get cavities when they’re still new.
Dental sealants aren’t just for kids; adults can get them, too. Sealants can be an extra guard if you’ve had cavities before or recently had treatments like fillings or crowns.
If you clean twice a day, floss daily, and regularly see your dentist, you’ll keep getting the good stuff from having sealants on your permanent molars.
Ask your dentist if dental sealants could be helpful. Listen to their thoughts and suggestions based on what they see in your situation.
The Application Process
Cleaning and Preparation Process
Before applying sealants, the dentist will clean and prepare the tooth surface. This involves thoroughly cleaning to remove debris, plaque, or bacteria from pits and fissures. The tooth is then dried to ensure optimal bonding of the sealant material.
Sealant Placement and Curing Techniques
Once the tooth is prepared, the sealant material is applied to the chewing surfaces. For resin-based sealants, a special light is used to cure and harden the material. This creates a durable protective layer. Glass ionomer sealants, on the other hand, chemically bond to the tooth surface and may not require a curing light.
Duration and Frequency of Sealant Application
Dental sealants are long-lasting and able to protect teeth for several years. However, they are not permanent, and their effectiveness may diminish over time. Regular dental check-ups assess the condition of the sealants and determine if reapplication is necessary.
Sealants are applied during childhood and adolescence and may be reapplied as needed throughout adulthood.
Benefits of Teeth Sealants
- Cavity Prevention: The primary benefit of dental sealants is their ability to prevent cavities by forming a defensive barrier against bacteria and food particles.
- Cost-Effective: Sealants are a cost-effective preventive measure compared to treating cavities and other dental issues.
- Pain-Free Application: The application of sealants is a painless and non-invasive procedure, making it suitable for individuals of all ages.
Common Misconceptions About Teeth Sealants
Despite their proven effectiveness, there are common misconceptions surrounding dental sealants:
- Sealants Are Only for Children: Sealants are commonly applied to children’s teeth, but they benefit individuals of all ages, including adults and seniors.
- Sealants Are Only for Cavity-Prone Individuals: While high-risk individuals benefit the most from sealants, anyone with susceptible tooth surfaces can gain preventive advantages.
Maintaining Optimal Oral Hygiene with Sealants
Here are some tips for individuals with sealants:
- Schedule regular dental check-ups to ensure the sealants are in good condition and receive professional cleanings.
- To maintain oral health, Continue brushing your teeth twice daily, floss regularly, and use an antiseptic mouthwash.
- Minimize the consumption of hard and sticky foods that may pressure the sealants.
Comparisons with Other Preventive Measures
Sealants vs. Fluoride Treatments
While both sealants and fluoride treatments aim to prevent tooth decay, they operate through different mechanisms. Sealants physically block the entry points of bacteria, while fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and makes it more resistant to acid attacks.
Sealants vs. Fillings
Sealants are preventive measures, while fillings are restorative. Sealants aim to prevent cavities, and white fillings are used to repair teeth that already have decay.
Children are ideal candidates for dental sealants, especially as their permanent molars and premolars erupt. Applying sealants early can provide long-term protection against cavities during their formative years.
Adults can also benefit from sealants. Applying sealants in adulthood can help prevent cavities and maintain oral health.
While seniors may have different dental needs, sealants can benefit those with natural teeth. Seniors at risk of cavities or with a history of dental decay can discuss the potential benefits of sealants with their dentist.
Find Out if Dental Sealant is For You
Dental sealants are useful for families seeking preventative dentistry. These sealants are a quick and affordable way to shield children from getting cavities, saving them from needing uncomfortable dental treatments like fillings. It’s not just good for the kids; parents benefit too. Investing in dental sealants can save money in the long run.
To check if dental sealants are a smart choice for protecting your or your kids’ teeth, contact a nearby dentist and ask them that exact question.
Frequently Asked Questions
Dentists apply dental sealants to protect the chewing surfaces of molars and premolars. These teeth have grooves called “fissures.” This can be deep, hard to clean, and narrower than a toothbrush bristle.
Plaque builds up in these grooves, and the acid from the bacteria in the plaque can attack the enamel. While fluoride helps prevent decay and protects all tooth surfaces, dental sealants offer extra protection for the pitted areas by making a smooth surface over the fissured area.
Typically, the first dental sealant is placed on the fissure of the first permanent molar once its chewing surface has fully come in beyond the gum. This tooth rises in behind the baby teeth. Sealing the chewing surfaces of these teeth helps protect them. Except for wisdom teeth, which come in later, molars and premolars keep coming in until ages eleven to thirteen, and their chewing surfaces can be sealed after they fully emerge beyond the gum.
Dental sealants are usually put on the chewing surfaces of these teeth because they often have deep fissures. Sometimes, dentists also use dental sealants on other permanent teeth. In some kids, the molars in their baby teeth also have pits. In this case, your dentist or hygienist might recommend dental sealants on the chewing areas of these baby teeth.
- Your dentist or hygienist cleans the tooth surface thoroughly with a paste and a spinning brush.
- They will rinse the tooth with water and make sure it’s dry.
- An acidic solution is applied to the fissured area on the tooth’s chewing surface for a few seconds before being washed off. This creates tiny microscopic areas and a slightly rougher surface than the surrounding enamel visible under a microscope. The roughness and microscopic areas help the dental sealant stick to the tooth.
- Once the tooth is dry again, the liquid dental sealant is applied and hardened. This can be done using a light or a two-component dental sealant that applies without light.
- Once it hardens, the dental sealant becomes a tough plastic coating, and you can start chewing on the tooth again.
Dental sealants have been in use and proven effective since the 1970s. Numerous studies show that they are effective in preventing decay on chewing surfaces. Dental sealants can last for many years. If needed, a new dental sealant can be applied to the tooth.
Yes. Dental sealants only protect the specific surface they are applied. Fluoride, on the other hand, helps protect all parts of the tooth from decay and cavities. It’s important to continue using fluoride to maintain overall dental health.