Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings which are applied to the deep grooves(fissures) on the chewing (occlusion) surfaces of the back teeth (molars) to protect them from tooth decay.
Sealants are effective dental caries-preventive agents which remain bonded to teeth.
Tooth decay in children can be preventable by combination of fluoride and sealants.
Fluoride protects the smooth surface of tooth and sealants protects tooth with surface irregularities called pits & fissures.
Occlusion surfaces are more prone to get decay mostly in children and teens. Sealants are painted on these groves which keep the groves germs free & food particles washed away easily, hence less likely to get decay.
Correct brushing & flossing is a definite method of removing food particles & plaque from tooth surfaces & between teeth. But at times the groves of molars are so deep that even brush bristles cannot provide proper sanitation to the surfaces. Sealants actually protect these vulnerable areas by sealing out the food & plaque.
Commonly Recommended teeth for Sealants
As decay is more likely to happen in the deep grooves of premolars & molars, Children and teenagers are appropriate candidates for sealants.
The first molar comes in to mouth at age of 6. Second molar appear at age of 12.
So the cavity (decay) prone age is 6 to 14 years of age. It is best to apply sealants as soon as tooth erupts.
Dental sealants are sometimes also used on other permanent teeth if they have grooves or pits, to help protect these surfaces.
In some cases, dental sealants may also be appropriate for baby teeth, such as when a child’s baby teeth have deep depressions and grooves. Because baby teeth play such an important role in holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth, it is important to keep these teeth healthy so they are not lost too early.
Adults without fillings or decay also benefit from sealants.
Procedure of Application of Sealants
Application of sealants is simple and painless process.
Dentist will take few minutes to apply the sealants on to the prone areas without grinding the tooth structure. The steps followed for application are as below:
1. First the teeth that are to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned.
2. Each tooth is then dried and cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry.
3. An acid solution is put on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to roughen them up, which helps the sealant bond to the teeth.
4. The teeth are then rinsed and dried.
5. 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.
Frequently Asked Questions On Sealants
Q.Are Sealants Visible?
Ans.Sealants can be clear, white, or slightly tinted, and usually are not seen when a child talks or smiles.
Q.Are Sealants Compatible?
Ans.As with anything new that is placed in the mouth, a child may feel the sealant with the tongue.
Sealants, however, are very thin and only fill the pits and grooves of molar teeth. With time the tongue will get habituated to the new material.
Q.Do Sealants last lifelong?
Ans.Sealants can protect the teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wearing at regular dental check-ups.
Dentist will replace sealants if required.
Q.Are Sealants an alternative to fluoride ?
Ans. Sealants are not at all Fluoride replacement for cavity protection.
Fluorides, such as those used in toothpaste, mouth rinse, and community water supplies also help to prevent decay, but in a different way.
Sealants keep germs and food particles out of the grooves by covering them with a safe plastic coating.
Sealants and fluorides work together to prevent tooth decay.
Q.Are Sealants a part of preventive dentistry program?
Ans.Sealants are one part of a child’s total preventive dental care.
Complete preventive dental program includes:-
2. Twice-daily brushing
4. Wise food choices
5. Regular dental checkups
Q.Is Sealing tooth is better than waiting for decay and filling the cavity?
Ans.Decay damages teeth permanently. Sealants protect them.
Sealants can save time, money, and the discomfort sometimes associated with dental fillings.
For filling the decay tooth structure have to be removed which is replaced with filling material. Sealants application needs no tooth structure removal.