Sealants

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What are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth, usually the back teeth, to prevent tooth decay. The sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and grooves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth. Although thorough brushing and flossing can remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, they cannot always get into all the nooks and crannies of the back teeth to remove the food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas from tooth decay by “sealing out” plaque and food.

How Do Sealants Work?

Think of them as raincoats for your teeth. When the cavity-causing bacteria that live in everyone’s mouth meet leftover food particles, they produce acids that can create holes in teeth. These holes are cavities. After sealant has been applied it keeps those bits of food out and stops bacteria and acid from settling on your teeth—just like a raincoat keeps you clean and dry during a storm.

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Dental Sealants

Who Can Get Sealants?

Children and adults can benefit from sealants, but the earlier you get them, the better. Your first molars appear around age 6, and second molars break through around age 12. Sealing these teeth as soon as they come through can keep them cavity-free from the start, which helps save time and money in the long run.

Because of the likelihood of developing decay in the depressions and grooves of the premolars and molars, children and teenagers are candidates for sealants. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.

Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14.

In some cases, dental sealants may also be appropriate for baby teeth, such as when a child’s baby teeth have deep depressions and grooves. Because baby teeth play such an important role in holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth, it’s important to keep these teeth healthy so they are not lost too early.

Dental Sealants and Hygiene

It’s important to remember that while sealants offer protection from cavities, they are not stand-ins or replacements for good brushing or flossing. Children with dental sealants should continue with their regular dental hygiene routine of brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily.

They should also continue to take in fluoride through municipal drinking water or fluoride treatments. Parents sometimes slack on fluoride because they assume kids’ teeth are being protected by sealants. While they do provide protection, fluoride strengthens teeth and helps ward off cavities, too, so it’s best to use both together.

How Are Sealants Applied?

Applying sealant is a simple and painless process. It takes only a few minutes for your dentist or hygienist to apply the sealant to seal each tooth. The application steps are as follows:

  • First the teeth that are to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned.

  • Each tooth is then dried, and cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry.

  • An acid solution is put on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to roughen them up, which helps the sealant bond to the teeth.

  • The teeth are then rinsed and dried.

  • Sealant is then painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.

How Long Do Sealants Last?

Sealants can protect teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wearing at regular dental check-ups. Your dentist can replace sealants as necessary. Sealants may need to be replaced if they suffer significant chips. Repairs don’t take long, but many people simply outgrow their sealants. They may get them as kids but let them lapse after becoming adults.

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What Our Clients Say

“ Over the years my dentist has helped me overcome my fear of going to the dentist and fear of the pain. He is very patient, calming, takes time to explain things so I can understand them and has a sense of humor which helps me. I like my hygienist and the rest of my support staff. ”

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“ Over the years my dentist has helped me overcome my fear of going to the dentist and fear of the pain. He is very patient, calming, takes time to explain things so I can understand them and has a sense of humor which helps me. I like my hygienist and the rest of my support staff. ”

Nicolas Milton

“ Over the years my dentist has helped me overcome my fear of going to the dentist and fear of the pain. He is very patient, calming, takes time to explain things so I can understand them and has a sense of humor which helps me. I like my hygienist and the rest of my support staff. ”

Nicolas Milton