What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are a special plastic coating that dentists use to protect your teeth. Typically, sealants are placed on chewing surface of the back teeth. The occlusal areas of the molars and premolars are used heavily and experience repeated pressure from biting. The sealant helps prevent decay and cavities.
Why are dental sealants placed on teeth?
The area of your permanent back teeth develop small grooves where the pressure from biting and the majority of chewing take place. The fissures in the molars and premolars on the occlusal areas leave the teeth susceptible to decay. These vulnerable areas are so small that it is difficult to clean them and keep them clean of plaque at home. Sometimes the fissures can be smaller than toothbrush bristles so at home cleaning is nearly impossible to achieve. While the dentist can offer fluoride treatments during your cleanings and checkups. The sealants can close off these fissures to return the tooth to a smooth surface without tiny places for plaque to settle and cause decay.
When are dental sealants placed?
Once the first of the permanent back molars starts to come in and the chewing surface of the tooth is exposed, the dentist can apply the first dental sealant to protect the tooth. The sealant can close off any fissures before decay can threaten the tooth. The dentist can continue to apply the sealant to the remaining molars and premolars, except the wisdom teeth. Typically those are removed and do not need the same attention as the teeth that will remain in the mouth and get used heavily. Usually, dentists will only apply dental sealants to the permanent teeth to ensure years of healthy dental checkups to come. Once the teeth have erupted through the gums, the dentist can apply the sealant to the chewing surface.
Are dental sealants only placed on the chewing surface of molar and premolar permanent teeth?
Dentists may choose to apply the dental sealants to other teeth if there are any identifiable grooves or fissures on those chewing surfaces. Depending on your child’s teeth and the condition of their baby molars, the dentist may recommend applying sealants to those as well.
Can dental sealants be place on the teeth of adults?
Yes. Often dentists apply these to children, teenagers and young adults, but in the case of the some at risk adults, the dentist may choose to place sealants to help prevent future dental issues.
What do dental sealants look like?
Dentists can use different types of sealants but they are most often clear, white or have a light coloration. Sealants tend to blend into the natural teeth without looking as dramatic as fillings.
How are dental sealants placed?
Before the dentist can apply the sealant, the dentist must properly clean the tooth, like the typical cleaning during the twice-yearly visits. The dentist will then apply an acidic solution to the groove where the sealant will be applied and rinse off the solution after a few seconds. The solution helps prepare the surface of the tooth to accept the sealant and allow for a more secure bonding. Then the sealant is applied and then hardened in place with or without a light. After the sealant has hardened, you can treat your sealed tooth the way you do your natural teeth.
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At Cornerstone Family Dentistry in Chapel Hill, all our services are performed with the patient in mind. We want you to feel comfortable in the dental chair, confident in our work, and most importantly, we want you to fall in love with your smile again. If you would like to schedule an appointment or if you have any questions about cosmetic procedures that we offer, please contact us at (919) 595-1010.