What is a sealant?
A dental sealant is a thin, plastic coat placed on the chewing surface of your tooth. These are usually placed on the back teeth to prevent tooth decay (cavities). The sealant works as a protective shield over the enamel (first layer of the tooth). They can keep cavities from forming and may even stop early stages of decay from becoming a full cavity.
Why do we need sealants?
Sealants are placed to keep out germs and food from attaching to the chewing surface of the teeth. The most important reason for getting sealants is to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride in toothpaste and in drinking water should protect the smooth surfaces of teeth. The back teeth (molars and premolars), however, need extra protection. For some patients, especially children, fluoride tooth paste is not enough to protect their teeth. If you like saving money, sealants will save the patient time AND money by preventing cavities. Cavities will inevitably lead to needing costly procedures such as fillings, inlays/onlays, crowns, or root canal therapy.
How often do we need sealants?
Once your sealants have been placed, the estimate time they can last is up to 10 years with proper care. You won’t have to have them removed; instead, sealants gradually wear away over time, allowing you to receive new sealants as needed. However, their hardened plastic material holds up remarkably well as long as you avoid behavior that puts undue stress on your teeth – such as using your teeth to open tough food packaging.
Once your sealants have been applied, your dentist will check on them each time you come in for a cleaning. He or she can even reapply if they seem to be wearing faster than usual, just to make sure your teeth are protected from the bacteria that can calcify into tartar when you’re not in the dentist’s chair.
What to expect on a sealant?
Sealants are a quick and painless process. The dentist will clean and dry your tooth before placing an acidic gel on your teeth. The function of this gel is to rough up the tooth surface so a strong bond will form between your tooth and the sealant. After a few seconds, your dentist will rinse off the gel and dry your tooth once again before applying the sealant onto the grooves of your tooth. Your dentist will then use a special blue light to harden the sealant.