Try as we might to protect against it, dental decay is a virtually unavoidable part of life. The vast majority of people will develop at least one cavity during their lifetime, and for many of us, that cavity will be in one of the teeth at the back of our mouth – the pre-molars or molars. These large, square teeth are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria and decay, and when cavities occur, they can be painful and, in some instances, require large cavity fillings or even crowns to restore the tooth to its former glory. Fortunately, there is a way to protect these teeth from decay – a treatment known as dental sealants.
Dental sealants are plastic coatings that are normally placed over the occlusal or chewing surface of the permanent molars and premolars. They can be clear, white or slightly tinted depending on the type of dental sealant that is used, but they blend in with your natural teeth, making them very discreet.
The molars and pre-molars have the largest chewing surface of any of our teeth. You may have noticed that this surface is covered with pits and grooves. This is entirely natural. However, these tiny indentations are ideal spaces for bacteria and plaque to accumulate since the bristles of many toothbrushes are too large to adequately reach down into them and clean them effectively. This increases the risk of decay forming in these teeth, leading to cavities and further problems such as a root canal infection.
Dental sealants are designed to sit over the top of these teeth so that bacteria and debris cannot get into these crevices and cause decay. This physical barrier can help protect the long-term health of your teeth.
While they are not considered mandatory, many experts agree that dental sealants are a highly beneficial treatment and extremely successful in reducing the instances of dental decay. If you have deep pits and fissures in your molars, you may be an ideal candidate for the procedure.
Dental sealants can be applied to virtually any patient. However, they are most often placed over the molars and pre-molars of children, normally as soon as these teeth erupt. Doing so offers the maximum amount of protection against damage and decay as your child gets older. Nevertheless, if you are an adult and feel that you would benefit from the placement of dental sealants, our dentist may well decide that you are a good candidate for the procedure.
The procedure to place dental sealants is straightforward and only takes a short amount of time. First, your teeth must be prepared by giving them a thorough, professional grade clean and polish. They are then rinsed with water and dried fully so that the sealant process can begin.
An acidic solution is applied to the teeth which roughens up at the surface. Although you can’t actually see this process, the solution enables the sealant material to grip onto the tooth securely. Once the solution has dried, the sealant is then applied. It is usually in liquid form and pasted directly on to the chewing surfaces of your teeth. A special light may be used to harden the sealant, depending on which type has been used. The entire process is painless and non-invasive, and you can return to your usual activities immediately after the procedure.
Dental sealants don’t affect the way in which you should take care of your teeth, and daily brushing, flossing and mouthwash use is recommended to keep them in the best possible condition. With proper attention, you may never need to have our dental sealants reapplied.
If you are interested in finding out more about dental sealants, or if you would like to arrange an appointment to see if you are a good candidate for the procedure, please don’t hesitate to contact our clinic where our team would be delighted to assist you.