What Are Dental Sealants, and How Do They Work?

What Are Dental Sealants, and How Do They Work?

Photo credit: Wikimedia user Politikaner. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)


Keeping your teeth free of decay is easy when you follow the right oral hygiene regimen. But for a lot of patients, the standard brush-floss-mouthwash procedure isn’t enough. That’s when you know it’s time for a dental sealant. Dental sealants are high-quality barriers that shield your teeth from decay, and they can help you to prevent cavities from forming. But how exactly does a dental sealant work? And what does the sealant procedure look like? Here’s what you need to know.


Dental Sealants: Stopping Decay Before it Starts


Every tooth in your mouth is a potential site for a cavity to form, but your molars need more protection than the smooth surfaces of your front teeth. The fluoride in municipal water supplies and toothpaste is more than enough to protect your smooth front teeth, but your molars can have deep grooves and pits that make them more difficult to clean.

A dental sealant is a thin coat of plastic that is painted onto your molars in order to keep food and decay-causing bacteria out of the deep grooves in your teeth. Sealants decrease your likelihood of developing cavities, and can help you to avoid needing procedures like crowns or caps.


How Do Dentists Apply Sealants?


The procedure for applying dental sealants is quick, easy, and painless.

First, your dentist will gently clean your molars with water and then dry them. Your dentist will place cotton around each tooth to ensure your teeth stay dry. Next, your dentist will apply a solution that makes the surface of your molars slightly rougher, as sealants have an easier time sticking to rough surfaces than smooth ones. After a quick rinse with clean water, your dentist will apply the sealant as a liquid. Some older types of sealants harden on their own within about a minute, but today, most dentists use a liquid sealant that stays soft until it is cured with a blue light. These sealants typically harden within about 30 seconds of being exposed to the light.


Who Benefits Most from Dental Sealants?


Most children receive dental sealants as soon as their permanent molars come in. Children see great benefit from dental sealants, given that they are particularly prone to cavities between the ages of 6 and 14. Sealants may also be appropriate for baby teeth in some situations. But what about older teens and adults? Are there any good reasons to get sealants replaced when you get older?

As it turns out, a dental sealant is never out of the question, whether you’re 14 or 40 – although not everyone needs a sealant. If you’ve never had a cavity in your life, you probably don’t need sealants. But if you have deep grooves in your molars, your dentist will most likely recommend a sealant in order to prevent cavities from developing.

Dental sealants are a great preventive measure that can keep bacteria, decay, and food particles out of your teeth, preventing the need for fillings in the future. If you’re at risk of developing cavities, or if your child hasn’t yet had dental sealants applied, you’ll want to consider dental sealants. Call Badie Dental at (520) 433-9800 to book an appointment with Dr. Badie and learn more about how dental sealants can benefit you.

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