Sometimes, the best way to maintain the cosmetics of your smile is to prevent potential problems. At Aspen Family Dentistry, we offer dental sealants to protect teeth from decay, which in turn, preserves the aesthetics of your smile.
A dental sealant is a plastic shield that is typically placed on the occlusal (biting) surface of permanent teeth in the posterior region of the mouth. These teeth, the molars, and premolars possess deep grooves and fissures that are difficult to clean. In fact, some of these grooves are so narrow they cannot be penetrated by the bristles of a toothbrush.
A dental sealant provides extra protection for these grooves by smoothing out the occlusal surface, making it much easier to clean. It also seals out the harmful bacteria that result in tooth decay. These bacteria are found in plaque, which can build up relatively fast in these deep areas, especially without proper brushing and flossing. Sealants prevent the acids produced by bacteria from attacking the enamel.
The molars and premolars are particularly difficult to clean for children and teenagers. Patients in this age range are normally at a greater risk for developing tooth decay. This makes children and teenagers the ideal candidates for dental sealants.
We typically recommend sealants as soon as their molars and premolars erupt above the gumline. In this way, dental sealants can safeguard your child’s oral health, and establish a strong foundation that will follow them into adulthood. However, it is important to note that dental sealants are not a substitute for good oral hygiene practices.
Proper brushing and flossing techniques are the best way to reduce your child’s risk of developing tooth decay. Be sure they are brushing their teeth at least twice a day, especially after meals and before bed. Flossing once a day is also a crucial part of your child’s oral health.
While children are the prime candidates for dental sealants, adults can also benefit, especially those at a greater risk for developing tooth decay. Risk factors include poor oral hygiene, genetics, diet, and certain medications. As long as you do not have existing decay or restorations, you could qualify for dental sealants.
During the application of dental sealants, we first thoroughly clean and wash the tooth with a special paste and rotating brush. Next, we rinse the tooth with water. Once the tooth is completely dry, we use an acidic solution on the grooved areas to create a rough exterior. A rough surface allows the sealant to better adhere to the tooth. The sealant is then placed over the occlusal surface in liquid form. Next, we use an ultraviolet curing light to harden the material in place. After the sealant is hard, it transforms into a plastic varnish coating that can withstand the pressures of your bite.
Once a sealant is in place, it can protect a tooth from decay for upwards of ten years. We may ask you to schedule a follow-up appointment so we can monitor the sealant. We may suggest a replacement sealant due to standard wear and tear.