What are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are protective coatings dentists use to prevent tooth decay and cavities by blocking out food particles, bacteria, and germs. They’re easily painted on to the tooth surface and are an essential part of preventative dental care.
Why Choose Dental Sealants?
Even with regular oral health care and hygiene, there are always areas of the teeth that are tough to clean. In fact, some fissures (grooves) in the teeth may not be reachable by your toothbrush bristles. In those areas, particles, bacteria, and acids can build up and sit on the enamel of the teeth, slowly causing decay and damage.
Dental sealants form a physical barrier that shields teeth from damage. As the name suggests, sealants provide a tight seal, even over pits and fissures in the teeth. This prevents small lesions from developing into cavities that require fillings.
Dental Sealants for Children
Dental sealants are often used for the permanent molars of children and adolescents. This is because the earlier a seal can be applied, the more protection the teeth will have.
Sealants are among the most important ways dentists can prevent cavities in children and teens. According to a report by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), “school-age children without dental sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants.”
Dental Sealants FAQ
Can dental sealant be applied to the teeth of an adult?
Although sealant is most typically used on the teeth of children, adults can also have a sealant placed on their teeth, as long as there is no sealant or fillings currently in those locations. The longevity of most sealants often results in sealants lasting well into adulthood when applied on children.
How are sealants applied?
The sealant process uses several dental materials to ensure the sealant adheres properly to the tooth’s surface. After thoroughly cleaning and drying the tooth (or teeth) to be sealed, your dentist or dental hygienist will apply a coat of acidic gel that helps ensure the sealant will bond securely with the tooth’s surface. This gel will then be wiped or rinsed off, and the tooth will be dried again.
Your dentist or dental hygienist will begin applying sealant over the chewing surfaces of the teeth using a brush that resembles a nail polish brush. Finally, a special blue light will be used to harden the sealant (although some two-process sealants will harden on their own).
Will I be able to see the sealant?
Most sealants are clear, which means they aren’t easily visible in the mouth. This also means your dentist can keep an eye on the areas where sealant has been applied to see if there are any changes between appointments. Some other sealants are white or may have a slight tint to them, but they are still mostly invisible, except to your dentist.
Which teeth can be painted with dental sealants?
Dental sealants can be applied to the chewing (occlusal) surfaces of any tooth, but they’re most often applied to the surfaces of molars and premolars. This is because the surfaces of these teeth have grooves or pits that catch and hold the most particles. These particles can slowly break down the tooth’s enamel. The smooth surfaces of teeth are at less risk of developing lesions and cavities.
Although many children receive sealants, they are often only applied to permanent teeth.
How long can dental sealant last?
Dental sealant can last up to several years in the mouth. It can also be reapplied when necessary, so your dentist will keep an eye on it during your next routine check-ups.
Doesn’t fluoride provide enough protection for my teeth?
Although dental sealants and fluoride play a similar preventative role in dentistry, they are also used in different ways (and often in tandem) to achieve different results. Dental sealants work only in the specific areas the sealant is applied, while fluoride works throughout the mouth to protect the tooth enamel. Your dentist and dental hygienist will likely recommend continuing with fluoride treatments, even after dental sealant has been applied.
Do I need to do anything after the treatment?
Dental sealants are part of an overall preventative approach to dentistry. The treatment is minimally invasive and doesn’t require any specific aftercare. However, general hygiene routines can work hand in hand with sealants to reduce tooth decay. Regular brushing, flossing, and fluoride treatments all aid in preventing cavities from developing.
Find a Dentist Near You
For specific advice, diagnosis, or treatment, reach out to one of the dentists in the 123Dentist network. We have dentists in your area offering dental sealants.