Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth, usually the molars and premolars, to protect your teeth from tooth decay. These sealants bond into the grooves of the teeth to form a protective shield over the enamel. While practicing proper oral hygiene can help prevent tooth decay, accumulation of food particles on the ridges of your back teeth may be inevitable.
Anyone can use sealants. However, children and adolescents are better candidates for the procedure. Since dental sealants cannot fit over other dental procedures like crowns or already decayed teeth, the procedure is not recommended for adults. In addition to protecting your teeth from decay, dental sealants are a painless and straightforward procedure that provides lasting benefits.
Like other dental procedures, dental sealants need to be placed by a skilled dentist to ensure that they serve you better and longer. At The Wittier Dentist, we have extensive experience providing top-notch dental services to all our clients in Whittier, CA.
What are Dental Sealants?
Taking good care of your oral health is a daily commitment. It is not fun crossing your fingers and hoping that you did not come up with a cavity every time you visit your dentist. Regular brushing and flowing is the best way to protect your teeth from the accumulation of food particles and bacteria that causes cavities. However, removing every particle of food from your teeth is not always easy, especially on the back teeth chewing.
Dental sealants are plastic coatings placed on the tooth's chewing surface to help protect them from decay, especially for molars and premolars. Molars and premolars have uneven surfaces, making it easy for leftover food and bacteria to stick. The bacteria and acid from the foods attract the enamel, causing cavity development. Therefore, placing the sealants will help offer extra protection to the fissured areas of the tooth.
Who Needs Dental Sealants?
You can explore dental sealants regardless of your age. Most dentists recommend placing sealants on children around five to six years. Then, after the molars appear, the second treatment is advisable. The main reason for fitting the sealants this early is to help prevent dental cavities. Although most parents monitor what their children eat closely, it may be impossible to avoid sugary and starchy foods on a diet. Fitting the teeth with sealants ensures that the food [articles and bacteria do not stick on the enamel.
Even when you are an adult, it is not too late to seal your teeth. While the sealants prevent cavities in children, fitting the sealants in adulthood will help prevent worsening cavities in the early stages. For adults, the indications for dental sealants include:
- Increased risk of cavities. The most common reason adults opt for sealants is to reduce the risk of cavities. If you have a deficiency of minerals or have a history of tooth decay as a child, you may be at risk of developing cavities.
- Tooth discoloration. Having discolored teeth may indicate that cavities could develop on that tooth. Most people assume tooth discoloration is the yellowing of the enamel. However, any unnatural change in the color of your teeth may be an indicator of possible cavities. Sealing discolored teeth helps reduce the likelihood of developing cavities.
- Deep fissure grooves. Having deep pits on your molars or premolars makes it easy for food particles, plaque, and tartar to develop on the tooth. The best way to prevent plaque and tartar build-up on such teeth is to seal them.
Application of Dental Sealants
When you visit your dentist for dental sealants, you can expect to undergo the following procedure:
- Tooth cleaning. The initial step when sealing your teeth is cleaning the tooth surface to ensure that the sealant material bonds correctly. The dentist will clean around and into the grooves using a soft-bristled brush.
- Conditioning of the tooth surface. After cleaning the tooth surface, your dentist will apply the etching gel over the tooth surface. The etching gel is left to rest on the area for twenty to sixty seconds before washing it off.
- Etching step assessment. After cleaning the tooth, the dentist blows the tooth dry using the air nozzle. The treated part of the tooth should look frosty, white, and dull. After the etching step, you will need to keep saliva away from the area. This is because saliva could cause contamination.
- Application of the sealant. The dentist applies the sealant to the dry tooth. The material used for tooth sealing is applied in liquid form. This allows it to cover the entire enamel surface as desired. When your dentist is satisfied with the positioning of the liquid sealant, they will set it using a curing light. Often, this light is a catalyst for the sealant material.
Benefits of Dental Sealants
Sealing your teeth is a great way to add a protective layer against bacteria that cause tooth decay. Some of the benefits you accrue from dental sealants include:
Sealants are an Alternative for All Ages
Contrary to common belief, sealants are not only beneficial for young children. Although fitting them as early as possible offers more benefits, anyone can benefit from the procedure. The teeth of older adults also have grooves that could harbor harmful bacteria.
Reduce Deep Grooves
Molars and premolars have more and deeper grooves when compared to other teeth. This makes them more challenging to clean. Even when you brush and floss regularly, having leftover foods on these grooves may be inevitable. This food particle will form tartar and accumulate cavity-causing bacteria. Sealing your teeth helps reduce the depth of these grooves and makes your teeth easier to clean.
The Procedure is Painless and Easy
The application process for sealants is quick and easy. After tooth cleaning, the sealant material is placed right away and cured using a special light. The only preparation needed for this procedure is roughing up the surface with vinegar or lemon juice. Often, your dentist will spend no more than two minutes on each tooth. Additionally, the process is painless, making it a suitable procedure for young children.
Easy Maintenance and Repair
One of the most significant benefits of dental sealants is that there are no special maintenance procedures you need to undergo. After the process is completed, you can go on with your everyday life. Additionally, when loosening or chipping the sealants, the repair procedures are as easy as fitting them.
Dental Sealants serve you longer.
One of the most common questions among people considering dental sealants is how long they last. Dental sealants can serve you for five to ten years, depending on your material. Considering how easy and quick the procedure is, five to ten years is worth the investment. At your dental visits, the dentist will check the condition of the sealants to determine whether they need repair.
In addition to being fast and painless, dental sealants are more cost-effective when compared to other preventive procedures. Due to this procedure's numerous benefits, most dental insurance companies include dental sealants in the procedures they can cover for individuals with a general policy. This will save you a lot of money since dental procedures do not come cheap.
Care for Dental Sealants
Dental sealants help protect the surface of the tooth. However, the sealants do not cover the flossing surface, your tongue, or gums from bacteria accumulation. You should not view the dental sealant procedure as an alternative to oral healthcare. Therefore, you can further protect your teeth and overall oral health by engaging in the following care practices after placement of your dental sealants:
Maintain Excellent Oral Hygiene
Although dental sealants protect the biting surface, bacteria from tartar and plaque can still accumulate in the spaces between the teeth and areas not covered by the sealant. Therefore, regular brushing and flossing, even on the parts with the sealants, is crucial. Dentists recommend that you seal a toothbrush with soft bristles and fluoridated toothpaste. While brushing your teeth, you should not leave out the areas with the sealants.
Although the sealants are for enamel protection, the build-up of bacteria on the gum could result in gum disease and further damage multiple aspects of your oral health. In addition to regular brushing and flossing, you should consider using an antiseptic mouthwash to clean away any leftover particles.
Avoid Hard Sticky Candies
Dental sealants are made of plastic prone to damage when excessive force is applied to the area. Chewing hard foods like candy or using your teeth as a tooth could significantly damage the material and expose the tooth to damage. If your child has dental sealants, you need to ensure that they avoid hard foods as much as possible. In addition to damaging the sealants, hard candies can damage your tooth enamel.
Avoid Chewing Ice
Chewing ice is a prevalent habit, especially in hot months. Most people chew ice for the calm and crunching feeling, while others may chew it to quench the feeling of hunger without having to deal with the extra calories. Like other hard foods, ice can damage your dental sealants. This means you will need constant dental checks and spend more on the repairs.
As an alternative to chewing the ice, you can:
- Melt the ice slowly into your mouth.
- Sip the temptation to chew the ice.
- Since the urge to chew ice, iron supplementation may be linked to iron deficiency.
- Consider healthier options to quench the desire to crunch on something.
Avoid Sugary Foods
Starchy and sugary foods are common causes of dental cavities. The bacteria in your mouth and tongue feed on sugar from these foods causing them to release acids that erode the exposed part of the tooth enamel. Dental sealants are only over the top part of the tooth and are placed on molars and premolars. Therefore, the teeth that do not have the sealants and the exposed portion of the molars and premolars may be prone to tartar and plaque, which predisposes them to decay.
Regular Dental Checkups
While the dental sealants help protect your teeth from decay and worsening of cavities, it is essential to understand that the procedure is not permanent. In addition to maintaining proper oral hygiene, you must make regular dental checkups. The dentist will check for any damage or lessening of the sealants during your dental visit. Constant repair of the sealants will help ensure that they serve you longer.
Complications of Dental Sealants
Dental sealants provide numerous benefits. However, there are some downsides to the procedure, including:
The Procedure is not Applicable to Everyone
Dental sealants are placed over the tooth enamel to protect it from cavities that result from bacteria accumulation. Although anyone could be a candidate for the sealants, individuals or children with a known allergy to fluoride may be unable to have this procedure. Additionally, if your teeth have severe decay or other restorations like fillings or a crown, your dentist cannot fit them with the sealants.
If you feel that you or your child would benefit from the sealants, it would be best to book an appointment with a general dentist. After assessing the condition of your teeth and your overall health, they will determine whether or not you are a good candidate for the sealants.
Presence of Bisphenol-A (BPA)
BPA is a resin in many plastic items, including water bottles and food can liners. According to research, BPA is harmful to human health and deters child development. While there is no direct evidence to prove that the sealants contain BPA, most have components that can turn to BPA on contact with saliva. Many parents are concerned about these sealants' effects on their children's health.
Since the benefits of sealants outweigh the supposed risk, dentists continue to remove this procedure. Additionally, scrubbing and rinsing the sealants has eliminated these supposedly harmful compounds.
Dental Sealants Frequently Asked Questions
Placement of dental sealants is a painless and easy procedure. However, since children are candidates for the installation, you may want to fully understand the procedure before allowing your child to go through with it. The following are some frequently asked questions on dental; sealants:
What is the purpose of fitting dental sealants?
Dental sealants are plastic coatings placed on the surface of molars and premolars. The primary purpose of putting these fittings is to protect the tooth surface from decay and cavities. Often, dental sealants can last for up to five years with proper care.
How long does it take to fit dental sealants?
Although dental sealants are plastic, the coating is placed in liquid form to ensure they cover each part and ridge on the molars and premolars. It takes one to two minutes for the liquid to dry up, and the dentist uses a curing light for the procedure.
What material is used for dental sealants?
Dental sealants are made of different materials, including:
- Composite resin. This kind of dental sealant is made of a plastic compound and ceramic mixture. Many people prefer this material because it is tooth-colored and not easy to notice. The retention rates of composite resin are high, and your dentist will use a special light to harden the material. Composite resin is best applied on molars with underlying complications since it helps the tooth stay in longer.
- Polyacid-modified resin. The Polyacid resin sealant is made of a bend between the glass ionomer and resin. This type of sealant is not hydrophobic and works to deliver fluoride at a lower rate. Polyacid resin sealant is suitable for young children who do not require high amounts of fluoride at once.
- Glass ionomer. Glass ionomer sealants are distinct from other sealants due to their long-term fluoride release. This type of sealant will lower your tooth's risk of developing a cavity by up to 35%. Often, the dentist will recommend this type of sealant for your child once their primary teeth erupt. The placement of glass ionomer sealants is quicker since the acid-base reaction bonds the dentin and the enamel.
Does the fitting of dental sealants work?
Dental sealants are one of the many ways of protecting your teeth from cavities or decay. This procedure is more effective than most people imagine. The chance of developing a cavity decreases to 50% after the sealing procedure. However, it is essential to understand that the procedure does not replace oral care. You will need to brush and floss regularly. In addition, you should go for regular dental checks to help identify any damage to the sealants and repair it.
Fluoride Treatment as an Alternative to Dental Sealants
Placement of dental sealants is an excellent way to protect tooth cavities, especially in children between six and fourteen years. However, other procedures could help serve this purpose, and a fluoride treatment is one.
Fluoride is a natural mineral that strengthens your teeth and prevents cavities. This mineral supports your tooth enamel and fights bacteria that could harm the gums and teeth. If you are at a higher risk of developing dental caries, fluoride will be helpful. Dental cavities result from the accumulation of bacteria, which release acid that erodes the tooth enamel.
Florida treatment aims to replenish the calcium and other minerals naturally in the saliva. This treatment is beneficial for individuals at a high risk of tooth erosion. Having a weak enamel, dry mouth, or history of dental cavities would compel your dentist to recommend this procedure.
It is often advisable that your child undergo fluoride treatment as soon as their first tooth appears. However, fluoride-free toothpaste is recommended for children under two years since excessive mineral ingestion could result in fluorosis. Professional fluoride treatment takes a few minutes, and the material is used in the form of foam or a gel. When the application of the fluoride is complete, your dentist will recommend that you avoid eating or drinking anything for up to 30 minutes. This gives your root enamel time to absorb the fluoride.
Depending on your oral health, your dentist could recommend that you undergo fluoride treatment for up to twelve months. Some of the benefits of fluoride treatment include:
- Destroying bacteria thus slows down or reverses the development of dental cavities.
- Helping join the tooth structure as the teeth develop, making your teeth less vulnerable to cavities.
- Helping the body have better use of the minerals like phosphate and calcium.
Like the placement of sealants, a fluoride treatment will be beneficial in preventing cavities for both adults and children. However, fluoride has some side effects that make many people trend the procedure with caution, including:
- Tooth discoloration. Dental fluorosis is one of the most common disadvantages of undergoing fluoride treatment. Fluorosis occurs when a child ingests excessive fluoride before their baby or adult teeth erupt entirely.
- Irritation or allergy. Some people may be allergic to fluoride. This may manifest in skin irritation after ingestion of the mineral.
Find a Skilled General Dentist Near Me
In a perfect world, everyone would have flawless and sparkling teeth, and the only care needed would be regular brushing and flossing. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many factors cause damage and discoloration of the teeth, which distorts your smile and can affect your overall dental health. Dental sealants are plastic materials built to shield the molars and premolars from damage by plaque and acid from foods. The sealants are often placed at the tooth's surface, where food particles are more likely to stick when you chew. Placement of sealants is a painless and easy way to protect your teeth.
As you opt for dental sealants, it is essential to understand that the procedure does not replace proper dental hygiene, and it is not for everyone. To better understand whether you are a good candidate for the sealants, you need to speak with a dentist. At The Whittier Dentist, we understand that the outcome of dental procedures could impact your oral health and appearance. We offer dental services to all clients requiring dental sealants in Whittier, CA. Call us today at 562-632-1223 to schedule a consultation.