Sealing Teeth Against Decay – For Whom, How Long, and What to Do
Good oral hygiene habits are always the first line of defense against tooth decay. However, teeth can be difficult to protect as they have irregular shapes. Molars, particularly, are prone to buildup of food bits and bacteria that can lead to decay.
A great way to give molars an added layer of protection against cavities is a dental sealant, a thin, protective layer of dental material that adheres to the molars’ chewing surfaces and helps prevent food particles and bacteria from lodging in all the little crevices on them. At Bondi Dental, we’d like to introduce you to this inexpensive and effective treatment for patients of all ages.
Who Should Get Sealants?
The short answer? Children should get sealants and non-children should get sealants! Sealants help prevent cavities from forming, and have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by almost 80%.
Because the depressions and grooves of the premolars and molars of children can lead to decay in children and teenagers, these young patients are good candidates. Typically, children should receive sealants for permanent molars and premolars when they come in. If applied early, sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14.
In fact, in some cases sealants can be applied earlier. In some cases Bondi Dental recommends sealants for infants, to protect temporary teeth, which help permanent teeth come into the mouth in proper alignment.
People often think that because they’re adults, sealants are not a treatment for them. But dental sealants can be ideal for anyone including adults with lightly damaged teeth. When a cavity or chip in a tooth is small, dental sealants provide the protection you need to keep the cavity or chip from expanding.
Sealants can also protect grooved teeth in adults. Adults benefit from sealants because they can save a tooth without removing any healthy tooth. If you thought sealatns were just for kids, you might want to think again!
What are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are a quick, easy, and relatively cheap (as opposed to the dental bills you might pay if you don’t seal teeth) solution for preventing cavities.
The sealant is a liquid plastic type material that, before curing, flows into the crevices of teeth to seal off areas that might be vulnerable to bacteria buildup and decay.
Here are the steps of a normal dental sealant treatment:
- The procedure begins with a healthy molar or premolar tooth free from tooth decay or dental restoration. It’s best to place a sealant on a molar or premolar within the first few months of its eruption into the mouth.
- The tooth is cleaned, rinsed, and completely dried.
- An etching material is applied to the grooves and crevices of the tooth. After a few seconds, the etching material is rinsed away and the tooth is dried again.
- A clear or tooth-colored liquid sealant material is painted into the grooves and crevices. It is important that the tooth stays very dry during this step. No wiggling for kids or adults!
- A blue light is used to cure or harden the sealant material. This takes a few seconds.
- The dentist checks to ensure that the material has covered and filled all of the tooth’s grooves and crevices.
These steps are repeated on each tooth that the dentist has recommended for sealants.
Taking Care of Dental Sealants
First off, good dental hygiene habits are important. With good home oral care and regular check ups at the dentist, sealants can last up to 10 years. Your dentist will check the structure and wear of the sealants at each dental exam and tell you when it is time for reapplication of the sealant.
Of course, patients with sealants should brush their teeth at least twice a day, floss regularly, and protect the sealants by avoiding stress on the teeth including tooth grinding.
It’s important not to abuse any teeth, but this is particularly true for teeth with sealants. Chewing hard things like ice will cause wear and tear on dental sealants. Even seemingly safe foods such as nuts or popcorn can accidentally cause damage to dental sealants. To take the best possible care of your dental sealants and be sure to schedule regular dental appointments so your dentist can check to see if your sealants are suffering due to food choices or habits.
If sealants do abrade or chip off, they can be quickly and easily replaced with another treatment.
The Bondi Dental Advantage
Bondi Dental is located in the Sydney area, at Bondi Beach. We offer high quality dental preventative, restorative, and cosmetic services for all patients in the region. Bondi Dental offers free parking at the rear of the building and FREE dental consultation including a complete dental check-up.
We are open 7 days a week 8am – 8pm!