Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that can help to protect the surfaces of teeth that are particularly susceptible to cavities, especially the large chewing surfaces of the molars. Those teeth have a number of deep grooves that can trap cavity-causing bacteria, and they don’t get as much saliva flow through the area, which could help to clear away the bacteria. This treatment is one of the hallmarks of preventive care that a patient may receive at a family dentistry practice.
In placing a dental sealant, the dentist will first thoroughly clean and dry the targeted tooth and then treat it with an acidic solution that will help the sealant to bond to the tooth. The dentist will then “paint” the liquid material on to the tooth, and it will harden, sometimes with the assistance of a special curing light. Dental sealants can protect the teeth for up to a decade.
Dental sealants can be particularly beneficial for the pediatric patients treated in a family dentistry setting, as many children have not yet mastered the dexterity needed for adequate oral hygiene on their own or may not be as conscientious about their habits as their parents are. Since the risk of cavities is particularly high between ages 6 and 14, sealants can be a valuable preventive intervention for patients in this age group. Ideally, the sealant can be placed as soon as possible after the permanent molar or pre-molar erupts.
Adult patients may be good candidates for sealants in some cases, as well. After all, grown-ups can get cavities, too. However, the circumstances may differ for placing sealants on adult patients instead of pediatric ones. Check with your dentist to see if a sealant may be helpful to you.
Of course, dental sealants do not provide foolproof protection against cavities. Patients still need to keep good oral hygiene habits, like adequate brushing and flossing, in order to keep their teeth and gums healthy, even after sealants are placed.
If you want to protect your teeth or your child’s from developing more cavities, consider dental sealants as a possible solution. Schedule a consultation at our office to learn if you or your child may benefit from this treatment.