Dental sealants are small patches of plastic material painted and cured onto the tops of molars. Sealants usually come in a shade of white that closely matches natural tooth color. But what do dental sealants actually do? Are they a dental treatment that you need?
Dental Sealants Prevent Decay
Your back chewing teeth have deep ridges that can trap sugars, acids, bacteria, and other debris that lead to the start of cavities. Toothbrush bristles can’t always access those deep grooves on your molars to clean out all that harmful material.
A sealant is a protective guard that goes right on top of the chewing surface of a molar. It fills in the grooves and valleys that can get packed with food debris. By filling in those deep crevices, sealants prevent cavity-causing bacteria from settling in and triggering tooth decay.
How Dental Sealants Are Placed
Getting a dental sealant is fast and painless. You won’t feel a single thing! Sealants sit right on top of teeth unlike regular fillings which actually replace missing tooth structure. This means that there is no drilling involved and no need for numbing shots when you get sealants.
The dental staff starts by putting a little bit of a sour acid jelly on the.tooth. This gel only mildly roughens up the surface of the enamel to help the sealant get a better grip. After rinsing and drying the molar, the liquid sealant material is painted into the grooves of the tooth. The dental staff quickly spreads and smooths out the material and then cures it with a bright light.
Lastly, the dental staff will check your bite to make sure the sealant isn’t too high. From start to finish, placing one sealant takes less than two minutes.
Who Should Get Dental Sealants?
Sealants can do the most good when they’re put on adult teeth that have never had a cavity. This makes children prime candidates for dental sealants. If you have kids, you should seriously consider having their adult molars sealed as soon as they come in.
Teens and adults of any age can have sealants, as well, of course. There is no age limit. The only requirement is that a tooth can’t have any decay. Sealants are a great choice for preventing cavities in the teeth of people of all ages, but they can’t treat existing cavities. Sealing over tooth decay will only allow the infection to continue spreading through the tooth.
Getting a sealant can’t hurt anything. Sealing one or more teeth will only help you in your fight against tooth decay. So if you have at least one molar that qualifies, go ahead and seal it!
How Long Will Your Dental Sealants Last?
Dental sealants can last for up to ten years or even longer if you take good care of them. Being made of plastic, they do erode away with time as they suffer the wear-and-tear of biting against other teeth.
The good news is that sealants aren’t like fillings in that they don’t need to be replaced if they wear away or fall out. But to ensure your teeth stay protected against cavities, you can always opt to have your sealants touched up or replaced when they do wear out.
Dental Sealants and Preventive Dentistry in Tacoma
Are you curious about the benefits sealants can have for you and your family? Find out more by planning a visit with a dentist in Tacoma who provides dental sealant service.
Dr. Duke Bui is a family dentist with a special focus on preventing dental problems before they can cause trouble. Sealants are one of the many ways Dr. Bui promotes healthy smiles for families through Tacoma and the surrounding area.
Call our team today to schedule your appointment.