In an ideal world, we would all enjoy a healthy and attractive smile for many years. Unfortunately, there are things that can put our teeth and oral health under threat. One of the most common is dental decay.
Decay occurs when bacteria that is naturally present in our mouths interacts with the sugars in the foods and drink we consume and produces acids. These acids are able to erode the outer layers of the enamel of our teeth. This causes holes to develop, and these expose the sensitive, inner layers of our teeth. As the bacteria reach these sensitive layers it causes severe pain and triggers infection. Without the proper treatment, the root of the tooth can become infected and die, and if the tooth doesn’t fall out of its own accord, it may need to be extracted.
Most people know that brushing two times a day, as well as daily flossing, are the very best ways to help keep tooth decay at bay. However, this is easier said than done. It can be difficult to effectively reach every corner and crevice of your teeth, particularly molars at the back of the mouth which have larger chewing surfaces than other teeth. This is because molars and pre-molars are developed to enable us to chew our food. They have a rough, uneven surface that has pits, grooves, and fissures to help us grind up our food so that it is small enough to swallow comfortably. Unfortunately, these tiny crevices are very difficult to clean properly and are one of the most common areas for decay to develop. Fortunately, it’s possible to protect teeth using dental sealants.
Dental sealants are a preventative dental treatment that is specifically designed to help patients avoid tooth decay. The sealant itself is a thin, protective coating that is applied over the top of the molars and pre-molars. It molds perfectly to the pits, grooves, and fissures of the teeth, preventing bacteria and food particles from entering them, creating an additional barrier against decay. Studies have shown that the likelihood of decay developing can be reduced by as much as 80% by having sealants applied to your teeth.
Patients should be aware that sealants don’t and shouldn’t replace a robust brushing and flossing routine.
The majority of sealants are applied to school-aged children, whose parents choose to protect their kid’s permanent molars as soon as they erupt. Adult teeth usually start to come through between the ages of 5 and 7, but molars tend to be some of the last to appear. Children are the most obvious candidates for sealants since they can benefit from their long-term protection, particularly when they may not prioritize their oral health as much as they should. However, there is no age limit on getting sealants.
The process to apply dental sealants is straightforward, fast, and painless. First, your teeth will be thoroughly cleaned to ensure that they are smooth and free from plaque. Once they have been dried, we will place a special acidic gel onto them. Although you can’t see it, the gel actually causes the surface of the tooth to become rough, creating a stronger bond with the sealant. The sealant is then brushed on and hardened using a special light. This completes the process. There’s no need for anesthetic and you can return to your usual activities immediately following treatment, although you may be asked to refrain from eating for up an hour just while your teeth settle after the procedure.
Exactly how long sealants will last can vary between patients and we will monitor them for you so that we can advise you when they should be replaced. Typically, sealants will last for around five years before they will need to be re-applied. The reapplication process is identical to the initial treatment procedure.
If you would like to learn more about protecting your teeth with dental sealants, please contact our dedicated dental experts at Seale Family Dentistry today by calling (337) 474-0212.