May 18, 2017

All About Dental Sealants

All About Dental Sealants

Dental sealants are among the most effective preventative dental treatments. They are used to

prevent tooth decay, the leading cause mostly preventable of tooth loss. The treatment is time-

tested; it has been successfully used for decades.

Rationale

The principle behind dental sealants is very simple, but effective. We know that tooth decay is

caused by acids in bacteria. The bacteria feed on leftover food we consume, and excrete acids that

damage enamel of our teeth. We try to prevent it every day with good dental hygiene – brushing,

flossing, and using mouthwash.

However, not all spots can be effectively reached. Our teeth are full of little pits, grooves and

recesses that make it incredibly easy for various small pockets of bacteria to develop. These fissures

are difficult to clean properly. Toothbrush bristles are often too thick to reach into these small

surfaces and cavities can easily develop.

That is why dentists will sometimes recommend placing dental sealants onto the teeth. Most

commonly these are placed on molars and premolars. In children who are prone to decay, these are

placed as soon as their permanent teeth erupt. Teenagers are also great candidates for this kind of

treatment.

Sealants are made of plastic material that is applied to the teeth. Plastic resin is most commonly

used, although glass ionomer materials are also available. Such sealants seem to be more effective,

but do not last as long.

This resin coating then fills up these pits and fissures, meaning there are no nooks where bacteria can

develop and fester. Teeth become smoother and easier to clean, which means that occurrence of

cavities is markedly reduced. Put simply, dental sealants are another line of defense against caries.

While fluoride represents a chemical barricade of sorts, dental sealants physically block caries from

developing.

The Procedure

The procedure is usually painless and does not require the administration of local anesthetics. The

application of sealants is done in a single visit. First the surface of the teeth needs to be very

thoroughly cleaned and polished in order for the resin to adhere properly. The tooth will then be

dried and etched. Acid etching allows for better and longer-lasting adherence of the resin material

and the surface of the tooth. The tooth (or teeth) is then thoroughly washed, cleaned and dried

again.

After that, the dental hygienist will apply the resin to the tooth and either leave it to cure on its own,

or use a special UV curing light for about half a minute to speed up the curing process. It is important

to prevent saliva from coming into contact with teeth that will be sealed, as it can cause the resin to

fail prematurely. Dental dams are sometimes used to that end.

After the sealant has been applied and dried, the dentist will check if the layer is adequately thick

and whether it impacts normal dental occlusion.

Effectiveness

Dental sealants do not last forever. Usually they will last for at least five years, but many last much

longer – 10 years is the norm. Your dentist will always inspect the condition of sealants and

recommend a re-application if necessary. Dental sealants are surprisingly sturdy – they last for quite

a while, withstanding huge chewing forces exerted by your molars.

Dental sealants are very good and effective, but cannot be used on tooth with existing fillings or

caries in its later stages. Early decay can be arrested (stopped) with timely application of dental

sealant. Patients with orthodontic appliances can use these sealants, too.

Dental sealants reduce the occurrence of dental caries of molars by as much as 80 percent. The rate

of caries among children with sealants is three times lower than that of children without dental

sealants.

Patients with healthy teeth, good hygiene and low consumption of sugary foods and foods rich in

carbohydrates usually do not need dental sealants.

The benefits of dental sealants are most obvious in children and teenagers, whose teeth are young

and still developing. That is why this treatment is mostly geared towards them. However, adults can

also benefit from this treatment, provided they do not suffer from advanced caries (cavities) and do

not have any fillings in their teeth.

Overall, dental sealants are a very effective way of halting the progression of dental caries, especially

if applied in the early age. Even though it is underutilized compared to some other methods (fluoride

treatments), it is well worth your time and money.

Call our Las Vegas, NV (Henderson, NV) office. Why wait until tomorrow for a smile you can have today?