What are Dental Sealants?
When we think of all the ways you can help safeguard your teeth against cavities, we tend to think of the basics – brush and floss your teeth regularly. Combined with professional teeth cleanings and oral exams, patients can set themselves up for success. However, one dental procedure can help protect your teeth to the next level, and it comes from using dental sealants.
Highly effective in preventing decay on the biting surfaces of your chewing teeth, dental sealants are a simple procedure in which a tooth-colored acrylic “coating” is painted onto the surface of the tooth. Dental sealants effectively “seals” the deep grooves, acting as barriers and protecting enamel from plaque and acids.
Sealants are easily applied by Dr. Rahimi-Thornton or a Thornton Dentistry dental hygienist, and the process takes only a couple of minutes per tooth. The teeth to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned and then surrounded with cotton to keep the area dry. A special solution is applied to the enamel surface to help the sealant bond to the teeth. The teeth are then rinsed and dried.
The sealant material is carefully painted onto the enamel surface to cover the deep grooves or depressions. Depending on the type of sealant used, the material will either harden automatically or with a special curing light.
Dental sealants are most often recommended for children. They are frequently recommended for permanent molars as soon as they come in, usually between the ages of 6 and 12 years. We may also recommend dental sealants for adult patients whose teeth are prone to decay or have not been restored or suffered from decay in the past. We can apply dental sealants in just one short, comfortable visit to our practice.
Sealants will often last for several years before they need to be reapplied. In some cases, they have been known to last up to 10 years if you properly care for them. Keep in mind the dental sealants only protect the surface of your teeth and not your entire tooth. Having them doesn’t mean that you can refrain from other ways to keep your teeth cavity-free. Be sure to continue to use fluoride treatments whenever possible to help strengthen your entire tooth, not just the surface. You’ll also want to continue proper at-home dental care, such as brushing your teeth and flossing regularly.