At Stevenson Dental Care, we know that prevention of tooth decay is vital to maintaining a healthy smile for a lifetime.
While practicing good dental hygiene, such as brushing and flossing your teeth daily, goes a long way towards preventing cavities, McCook dentist Dr. Kaitlin Haag also recommends dental sealants for an added level of protection. Dental sealants applied now can help you avoid costly and uncomfortable dental procedures down the road.
Why Are Sealants Necessary?
A dental sealant is a thin layer of resin that is painted onto the chewing surfaces of the back teeth.
Because the back teeth tend to be rough and uneven, food and bacteria can easily get caught in the pits and crevices formed on the surfaces. Even with regular brushing, your toothbrush bristles cannot always reach these areas. As a result, you run a greater risk of having cavities form in these teeth.
Once applied, dental sealants form a protective shield over each tooth and create a smooth surface that discourages tooth decay.
What Does The Procedure Entail?
First, the teeth are thoroughly cleaned and dried to prevent sealing in any harmful bacteria. Then, a resin is applied to the tooth using a brush. A high intensity light bonds the sealant to the tooth and within about thirty seconds, the sealant has hardened into place.
The sealant material is white, so it’s virtually invisible. And unlike having a cavity filled, the application of dental sealants is quick and painless. No need for sedation or an injection.
The new barrier that is formed between your teeth and decay-causing bacteria, if properly maintained, will last for up to ten years. However, we recommend scheduling regular dental visits in order to have the sealants inspected for damage. Any chips or cracks that form in the sealants can be easily repaired by simply adding more sealant material.
Who Needs Sealants?
Children should have sealants applied as soon as their permanent molars come in, generally between the ages of 5 and 7. Teens and adults who naturally have deep fissures and grooves in their back teeth are also excellent candidates for sealants because they run a greater risk of developing cavities. Dental sealants are also sometimes recommended for baby teeth that are unusually grooved or pitted.
Dental sealants, along with the use of fluoride toothpaste, have been proven to be one of the safest and most effective methods for preventing tooth decay in children and adults. The longer you wait to have sealants applied, the greater your risk for developing cavities in the future.