How Do Sealants Work?
Dental sealants are plastic coatings placed on the chewing surfaces of hard-to-reach back teeth. The coating adheres to the pits and grooves on these teeth that are vulnerable to decay and acts like a barrier, protecting the enamel by “sealing out” bacteria and bits of food.
Sealants adhere closely to the grooves and create a smooth surface that naturally resists the formation of dental plaque deposits. Brushing remains important – the antibacterial action of fluoride is still effective on teeth with sealants – but it is more difficult for bacteria colonies to attack the enamel covered by them. This makes it simpler for you to maintain great dental health.
Sealants Help Prevent Tooth Decay and Cavities
Your teeth are coated with a sticky layer of bacteria called plaque, which turns the sugar that you consume in food and drinks into acids that break down the hard, outer later of teeth called enamel. People get cavities when, over time, the acid in your mouth weakens the enamel and causes tooth decay, or a hole that forms in your tooth’s enamel.
Tooth decay often develops on the surfaces of the back teeth where plaque, bacteria, and food can get trapped and can be too small and difficult to clean by your toothbrush bristles. When this occurs, dental sealants are recommended to patch up the pits and grooves from the chewing surfaces of these teeth and keep decay from forming.
Check Out Our Informative PDF About Cavities!
How Are Sealants Applied?
Before a sealant can be placed, the specified tooth or teeth are cleaned and the chewing surfaces are prepared to help the sealant stick. The sealant is then painted onto the chewing surfaces and filled into the pits and grooves of your teeth where the sealant bonds and hardens.
Once the sealant makes contact with the teeth, it only takes a few seconds to harden into the characteristic smooth, hard material. A curing light is usually used to facilitate the transformation into a clear varnish that you can chew on again.
What Are the Benefits of Getting Sealants?
Sealants are safe and effective when it comes to preventing tooth decay. Most of the time, only healthy teeth with no cavities or fillings can undergo the procedure. That said, sealants protect teeth that would otherwise be very time-consuming to keep clean. Once you have a dental sealant, your odds of developing cavities or needing a filling in the affected tooth are greatly reduced.
Sealants are typically clear or white, so they do not have any negative effect on the appearance of the tooth. In fact, sealants produce some protection against staining and discoloration. Of course, the other surfaces of the tooth can still be attacked by bacteria and suffer from plaque deposits. With that in mind, it’s still essential to brush and floss your back teeth as best you can.
You can benefit from sealants at any age. Sealants are often recommended for children and teenagers, since tooth decay can start soon after permanent teeth come in. But, you never outgrow the possibility of tooth decay and cavities, so adults are great candidates for sealants as well.
How Long Do Sealants Last?
Sealants typically last several years before they need to be replaced. Over time, sealants can come off on their own or be broken down by chewing on hard foods, inhibiting their ability to fully protect your teeth. If there is ever a problem with your sealant, there’s nothing to worry about – new sealant material can be placed on the tooth to replace the old one.
When you’re in need of a sealant or any other preventative dentistry procedure, consult a Colorado Springs dentist you can trust. My Dental Company provides compassionate dental care for the whole family. We want you to feel at home in our friendly neighborhood office – and we’ll do all we can to make you comfortable, even if going to the dentist isn’t your favorite.
To learn about sealant options or get started, request an appointment today.