Seal Out Cavities With Dental Sealants

By: Gen Wright

Studies have proven that when properly applied, dental sealants are extremely effective in protecting the tooth surfaces from cavities. As long as the sealant remains intact, small food particles and bacteria that cause cavities cannot penetrate through or around a sealant. Sealant protection is reduced or lost when part or the entire bond between the tooth and sealant are broken. However, clinical studies have shown that teeth that have lost sealants are no more susceptible to tooth decay than teeth that were never sealed. Protecting your teeth is an important measure in preventing tooth decay and cavities.

The Procedure

Dental sealants are usually performed on baby teeth soon after they erupt, and repeated at regular intervals over the years. Since the sealant is gradually lost through natural wear and tear of the teeth, the application must be repeated to remain effective.

Your dentist will first clean your teeth, dry them and apply a slight acidic solution that is designed to help the sealant bond to the tooth surface. Then, each tooth is painted with a very thin layer of the sealant coating. The coating is clear or white, allowing it to blend easily with the natural tooth color.

Typically, your dentist will use a high-intensity curing light to harden the sealant after it has been painted on your teeth. Sealants can last for many years, but they should be checked regularly and assessed for possible re-application to ensure protection.

Protecting Your Child's Teeth

Children are highly susceptible to cavities because of their many bumps and grooves of the chewing surfaces. Debris and resulting bacteria may become lodged between the grooves of a child's tooth, becoming more problematic for children.

Toddlers, children aged 4 to 17 and adults all face the same pit and fissure problem. Premolars and molars have the most pits and fissures, and are difficult for people of any age to reach with a toothbrush or dental floss. However, with the application of sealants on the appropriate teeth can help prevent tooth decay for susceptible populations.

Dental Sealants Prevent Decay

The dental sealants protect your tooth enamel from the bacteria and acids that cause decay. While brushing and flossing help to remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, toothbrush bristles often can't reach into the teeth's depressions and grooves. Sealants protect those areas and prevent food and bacteria from getting in.

Sealants are extremely safe. Talk to your dentist in Houston today about whether sealants can put extra power behind your smile and prevention program. It is up to your dentist to decide if dental sealants are the right choice to protecting your teeth from decay. As always, dental sealants do not permit skipping proper oral hygiene.

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Sean Hartmen writes for leading Houston, TX dentist, Dr. Ellen Lim. She is a graduate of the dental program at Northwestern University in Chicago and has been in private practice since 1990. Dr. Lim strives to keep current with the latest advances in dental technology, cosmetic and general dentistry, including Houston whitening.

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