Worry about children and their health is probably most parents’ biggest worry. Which means that if a good way exists for parents to prevent their children from needing painful dental procedures in the future, most parents would jump at it. At Prevent Dental Suite we are happy to say that when it comes to oral health, there is a scientifically proven way to protect the teeth of school-aged children from cavities and decay! That treatment is a dental sealant, and it can also be extremely effective for some adults.
A dental sealant is a protective liquid that is applied to the teeth. The sealant hardens and provides a coating designed to reduce cavities and create a smoother tooth surface. Dental sealants are clear or white; meaning they do not harm the look of your teeth. In some ways sealants are a lot like varnish – they both coat vulnerable surfaces and protect them.
Who Should Get Sealants?
Because of the high likelihood of developing decay in the depressions and grooves of the premolars and molars, children and teenagers are good candidates for sealants. Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as they come in. If applied early, sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14.
However, while sealants are normally thought of for children, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.
Sometimes, dental sealants may even be appropriate for baby teeth. While baby teeth are temporary, and sometimes thought of as disposable, they need just as much dental protection as permanent teeth. Baby teeth play a critical role in holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth. If baby teeth are lost to early they can adversely affect the spacing of the permanent teeth to follow, leading to serious problems that may require orthodontic or other treatments.
How Are Sealants Applied?
Happily, sealing teeth is a simple and painless procedure.
Dentists and dental hygienists usually seal teeth in a single visit.
The first step is to remove the plaque and food debris that may still be hiding in the pits and fissures of the teeth. To do this, they clean them with a brush and pumice paste.
Drying and isolation are the next step. Because resin-based sealants are only effective when applied to dry teeth, dentists dry tooth surfaces with a small air syringe that blows a gentle stream of air. To protect the tooth from saliva, they then isolate it from the rest of the mouth, usually by surrounding it with cotton rolls.
The third step is etching. Etching with an acidic liquid creates a slightly rough surface that helps resin-based sealant bond with the tooth surface. Etching material is applied and left on the tooth for about 15 seconds, then washed off.
Fourth in this process is rinsing. When the etching is complete, the dentist rinses the etchant off, dries the tooth and isolates it with cotton rolls.
Then comes applying the sealant itself. Sealant is a liquid that sets into a solid, plastic film on the tooth. The dentist or dental hygienist brushes the liquid onto the tooth’s surface and guides it into the pits and fissures.
Some sealants set by themselves in a few seconds, whereas others require concentrated UV light. If the sealant sets under light, the dentist shines the light for about 30 seconds – the final stage of the process. Your sealant is in place and ready to go!
How Long Do Sealants Last?
Once your sealants are in place, they can last up to 10 years with proper care. Sealants are not removed; rather, they wear away over time. This means you can receive new sealants as needed. This also means that you should make regular visits to Prevent Dental Suite, both for regular checkups and to keep an eye on your sealants. In any case, sealants hold up well as long as you avoid behavior that puts undue stress on your teeth – such as using your teeth to open food packaging, chewing ice, or using your teeth as tools.
Keep in mind sealants aren’t the only way to fight cavities, and are not a substitute for regular oral care. So keep to those good brushing and flossing habits!
High-Quality Dental Care At Prevent Dental Suite
Prevent Dental Suite is comprised of dedicated dental professionals who provide gentle and patient-oriented care to offer the best-quality dental service from the moment patients come into our office. Dr. Shilpa Gupta is the resident dentist at our Kallangur clinic, and combines many years’ experience with personable service. To learn more about our amazing team, go to our team page.
We offer dental services to Kallangur, Warner, Murrumba Downs, North Lakes, Petrie, Strathpine, Griffin, Mango Hill, Lawton and all surrounding areas in Brisbane Northside.