Dental sealants are not so new in the dental industry. They are thin plastic coatings that are often placed on the chewing surface of the teeth, usually the molars and premolars.
Basically, these sealants help prevent tooth decay, while forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.
Generally, the chewing surfaces of both the premolar and molar teeth have grooves often called fissures that make them highly vulnerable to decay. These fissures are also deep, such that they are very difficult to clean. When this occurs, plaques accumulate in these areas, and the acid developed from the bacteria in the plaque may further result in some irregularities in the enamel, and cavities may develop.
Although fluoride is quite useful as well, they prevent the teeth from decay. While ensuring that other surrounding areas of the teeth and surfaces are protected, dental sealants ensures greater protection for both grooved and pitted areas of the teeth.
Usually, the first dental sealant is often placed on the fissure of the first permanent molar tooth when the chewing surface of the tooth has completely erupted beyond the gum. In cases where the chewing surfaces of the teeth are sealed, the sealant will ensure that the teeth are properly protected against any complications.
Except for wisdom teeth, which often comes through much later, the molars and premolars of the patient’s teeth continue to erupt until after thirteen years of age when the chewing surfaces of these teeth can be properly sealed after they have erupted well enough, beyond the gum
It is recommended that every child and teenager get dental sealants. This is usually because the chances of developing tooth decay in the groves of molars and premolars during this age are usually high. Regardless, adults without tooth decay or fillings in their molars can also enjoy the benefits of dental sealants.
Ideally, sealants for children should be on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. This will ensure that the teeth are adequately protected through the cavity prone years of ages 7 to 14.
Basically, dental sealants are majorly placed on the chewing surfaces of these teeth since they are the specific area of the teeth that are usually prone to deep fissures. Nevertheless, dental sealants can also be placed on other permanent teeth with groves or pits, to help protect the surface of the affected area.
Depending on the brand and type used, a dental sealant can be white, clear or may have a slight tint.
Using a paste and rotating brush with the help of your dentists or hygienist, the teeth are effectively brushed. Next, the tooth is properly cleaned and dried, while an acidic solution is placed to the fissured area of the tooth chewing surface for few seconds before they are finally rinsed off.
After the teeth have been cleaned and dried out, the dental sealant is placed on the tooth and is hardened as well. To harden the dental sealant, two-component sealants are used to harden the surface. Sometimes, dental sealants can also be hardened by using a light that hardens the dental sealant. Once the sealant is hardened, it becomes a hard plastic varnish coating, and the patient can easily chew on the tooth again.
Many studies have shown the effectiveness of sealants in preventing and fighting against tooth decay on the chewing surface of the teeth. However, when properly taken care of and utilised, dental sealants can last for many years. Your dentists or hygienist can also place new dental sealants on the tooth if necessary.
Yes! You still need to use a fluoride even while you have your dental sealants on. Dental sealants only protect the surface area where the sealants are placed, while fluoride helps protect the entire teeth surface from decay and cavities.
Placing dental sealants is almost a straight forward procedure, and does not necessarily require drilling and numbing the patient, as it is usually painless. The following are procedures that your dentists or hygienist will normally follow:
Although varieties of insurance companies may cover the cost of dental sealants, this may only be applicable for patients younger than the age of 18 and not for older patients. It is recommended that you check with your dental insurance carrier to determine if dental sealants are covered under your insurance plan.