Our teeth are meant to last us a lifetime. With proper care, including regular brushing and flossing and twice-yearly trips to the dentist, our teeth are able to remain strong and healthy. In children, however, teeth are particularly vulnerable to decay. Eating sugary foods like candy and drinking sugared beverages contribute to tooth decay, as do poor brushing and flossing habits. To combat decay in children’s’ mouths, dentists often rely on dental tooth sealers, sometimes referred to as dental sealants, to add a layer of protection to the teeth. Here is a look at dental sealers and how these innovative dental products can benefit the oral health of anyone susceptible to tooth day.
What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental tooth sealers (dental sealants) are liquid preparations that cure to a hard, durable surface. They are brushed on using a tiny brush, much like fingernail polish. The process is painless, but there may be a small amount of odor or unpleasant flavor when the sealers are first applied and before they have a chance to cure.
There are several formulations of these sealers, including plastic resins and glass ionomers. Some of the plastic resin-based sealers use a powerful ultraviolet (UV) light to cure the sealer, while others use visible light sources to cure the sealer. Resin-based sealers are the most common in use in dental offices around the world. These sealers can be found in a wide variety of colors, but most dental professionals and their patients prefer natural-colored sealants, such as clear or tooth-colored choices.
Why Do Dentists Use Sealers?
Dental sealants are used to fortify natural fissures and recesses in human teeth, particularly in the newly-formed adult teeth in the back of children’s mouths. Teeth naturally have grooves and depressions, making them harder to keep clean. These natural features can be collection points for decay-causing bacteria. Eventually, those bacteria can result in dental caries (cavities), which could require fillings or even tooth extractions in worst-case scenarios. Sealants are applied to the potentially troublesome areas of teeth, serving as a protective and preventative barrier. Properly applied, sealants offer many years of protection, and can help reduce the chance of a tooth restoration or extraction well into the future.
How Do Dentists Apply Dental Sealants?
Family dentists apply dental sealants by using a step-by-step process. First, the tooth or teeth to be sealed are cleaned carefully and then dried. The dentist then applies the sealant to the tooth surfaces using a small brush or a cotton swab. Typically, the sealant is a form of plastic resin, and is then cured using a light source. The curing process usually takes less than a minute to complete, and the result is a durable, hard, and smooth coating that protects the vulnerable tooth areas. These sealants have a long life, especially if the patient takes care of them by avoiding bad practices like chewing ice.
A dental sealing procedure only takes thirty to forty five minutes, and is a painless and simple process. The dentist will inspect the sealed areas at subsequent checkups, reapply sealer if there are chips or worn areas.
Best of all, dental sealers are an inexpensive way to protect the delicate teeth of children aged 5-14, especially the new adult teeth found in the back of children’s mouths. Dental sealers are usually fully covered under dental insurance. Dental sealants are a cheap form of insurance against future tooth damage – damage that can cost thousands of dollars to correct. Speak to your family’s dentist today to see if tooth sealants are right for you and your children’s specific needs.