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If you’ve been going to the dentist for any length of time, you’ve likely heard about “sealants,” either from your dentist or from other patients. The following is an essential guide to sealants that will help you learn more about them, why you may need to get them, and what the sealant application process involves.
Fissure Sealants Definition
A sealant is a coating made from protective and safe plastic material. Sealants are designed to help protect your teeth from tooth decay, which can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and a host of other problems.
How Sealants Work
Sealants work by effectively forming a shield between your teeth’s surface and food, bacteria and other substances that would otherwise get into your teeth’s grooves and cause tooth decay. You still need to brush your teeth and uphold a regular dental hygiene routine, but sealants make it easier to prevent tooth decay by shielding your fissures (or grooves) from a significant amount of bacteria that would otherwise cause tooth decay. Typically, people with sealants who also adhere to a regular dental hygiene program have fewer cavities than people without sealants.
Which Teeth Need Sealants?
Sealants are only applied to your back teeth, known as premolars and molars. This is due to the fact that your back teeth have fissures/grooves and pits/small hollows on the biting surface. Food, bacteria and other substances can easily get into these grooves and pits, which can result in cavities, gingivitis, and other problems related to tooth decay.
Typically, it is teeth with deep grooves that need sealants, whereas teeth with shallow grooves may not require a sealant. However, this can vary from person to person, as certain people may be more at risk for developing cavities even with shallow grooves on their teeth. People typically receive sealants as soon as their permanent teeth come in, which for most people is at 6-7 years old and continues until they are 11-14.
How Are Sealants Applied?
Sealant application is fairly quick and completely painless. First, the tooth is cleaned, and then prepared with a special solution which must dry. The sealant is then applied to the tooth and left to set; today, a unique bright light is used to help the sealant harden quickly.
How Long Do They Last?
Sealants last for years; however, they should be routinely checked by your dental professional so that the dental professional can make sure that the seal hasn’t eroded over time. Sometimes, when a sealant begins to erode, food or bacteria gets underneath the coating. This may cause tooth decay, which is why it’s important to ensure that any teeth with sealants are checked regularly.
Do I Need Sealants?
You should consult with your dental team in regards to getting sealants on your fissures, if you don’t already have them. Your dental team will be able to determine whether or not sealants are the best dental treatment option for you, as they will be able to tell whether or not your teeth will benefit from getting sealed.