does a sealant help prevent decay?
A sealant is a plastic
material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth –
premolars and molars. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and
grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The
sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids.
Thorough brushing and
flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of
teeth. But toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the
depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these
vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.
sealant application a complicated procedure?
Sealants are easy for the
dentist to apply, and it takes only a few minutes to seal each tooth. The
teeth that will be sealed are cleaned. Then the chewing surfaces are
roughened with an acid solution to help the sealant adhere to the tooth.
The sealant is then “painted” onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly
to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help
the sealant harden.
As long as the sealant
remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants
hold up well under the force of normal chewing and usually last several
years before a reapplication is needed. During your regular dental visits,
your dentist will check the condition of the sealants and reapply them when
Sealants are just for kids, right?
The likelihood of developing
pit and fissure decay begins early in life, so children and teenagers are
obvious candidates. But adults can benefit from sealants as well.
Key ingredients in
preventing tooth decay and maintaining a healthy mouth are twice-daily
brushing with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste; cleaning between the
teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners; eating a balanced diet and
limiting snacks; and visiting the dentist regularly. Ask the dentist about
whether sealants can put extra power behind your prevention program