We all know that brushing and flossing are the best ways to prevent cavities, but sometimes we can’t reach every surface of our teeth with a toothbrush. Unlike other teeth in your mouth, your molar and premolar teeth have especially deep grooves and fissures. The food and bacteria that accumulate in these difficult spots can cause tooth decay and poor oral health. This is why dental sealants are crucial.
What are dental sealants?
Plastic coating placed on the occlusal (chewing surface) of the back teeth is called dental sealant. Dental sealants protect your teeth by creating a smooth surface over the pitted, gritty areas of each tooth vulnerable to decay. This sheer, protective coating adheres to the chewing surface of your teeth to block food bits that would otherwise sink into the fissures of your molar and premolar teeth and to stop acid and bacteria from settling.
When should dental sealants be applied?
The earlier your child gets dental sealants, the better. Most children’s first molars appear around the age of 6, and the second molars around the age of 12. If your child receives dental sealants as soon as their molars erupt beyond the gums, their teeth will be protected through the cavity-prone years.
Luckily, dental sealants will benefit your child’s oral health for several years –sometimes lasting until adulthood before they need to be reapplied!
On that note, we offer dental sealants for our adult patients as well! However, it is less common for adults to have dental sealants applied.
How are dental sealants applied?
Your child’s pediatric dentist will follow a number of simple steps to apply dental sealants (not to worry, they are all completely painless!):
- First, your dentist will clean and dry the tooth to prepare it for the plastic coating.
- An acidic gel will be placed on each affected tooth to create a grainy surface. This gel makes the surface of the teeth rough, so the sealant will adhere to the surface effortlessly.
- After a few moments, your dentists will rinse off the gel and dry the tooth again. Your dentist will then apply the sealant onto the grooves of the tooth and use a special blue light to harden the sealant.
Although they are no substitute for daily oral hygiene, sealants can prevent early stages of decay from growing into full cavities.