How Dental Sealants Can Help You Avoid Decay in the Future

Prevention is something that all dentists preach about all the time, and the truth is that you can avoid most dental issues by taking preventive measures. You probably already know of the most common ones, like brushing or flossing.

But did you know about dental sealants?

Despite being around for a while, some people still don’t know about the existence of this treatment. When you think about solutions for decay, your mind might go straight to dental fillings (which are also great).

However, dental sealants are also a very viable option, although it’s pretty different from dental fillings. How? You may wonder. Stick around! In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about sealants, from how they differentiate from fillings to determining who is a candidate for them.

What Are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are thin coatings that dentists can apply to your teeth to help them stay cavity-free. They are placed on all the chewing surfaces of your back teeth, which are more prone to decay. 

Molar and premolar teeth (the ones in the back) have an uneven shape that it’s great to chew food with, but it’s also excellent at accumulating food and, therefore, plaque. 

And then we can conclude that sealants and dental fillings are two different things.

Dental sealants prevent the development of plaque in these tiny spots that are difficult to reach with a toothbrush. They give you a layer of protection over your teeth’ enamel.

The American Dental Association says that sealants have proved to decrease decay by approximately 80% in molars. So they are a very viable solution to keep your teeth healthy.

Dental sealants v.s Dental Fillings

The biggest difference between the two treatments lies merely in their purpose. You can treat teeth against decay with both fillings and sealants. But one is preventive, and the other one is restorative.  

You probably guessed it already, but dental fillings are restorative ones. They’re used to repair damage to a tooth caused by decay. Harmful bacteria produce acids that dissolve minerals found in enamel, such as phosphorus and calcium.

Keep in mind that enamel is what maintains your teeth safe and sound. But if it weakens as a result of this disintegration, holes or cavities form in the substance.

When this happens, the dentist removes the rotten section of the enamel, cleans up the area very well, and places the fillings. These protect the tooth from further harm by preventing oral bacteria from entering and causing infection or further decay.

On the other hand, dental sealants are a preventive measure that you can only use on teeth that haven’t had any decay. Dentists usually use them for the molars’ chewing surfaces since the grooves are deep, allowing food and plaque to adhere to the teeth easily. 

Bacteria feed on carbohydrates left in the mouth, and your molars capture most of the leftover food and snack waste. 

Bacteria combine with the debris and produce plaque, which adheres to the teeth and allows the acid to reach your enamel directly before being diluted by saliva. As a result of this, you get tooth decay.

Dental sealants fill in the grooves while also serving as a barrier to protect the teeth from the harmful acids that come from bacteria after digestion. Dental sealants protect tooth enamel from plaque and mouth acid. As a result, the teeth are safe from decay.

What’s The Process of Getting Dental Sealants?

A favorable aspect of dental sealants is how simple they apply and how little discomfort they cause. 

The sealant application is a straightforward and painless procedure. Your dentist or hygienist will apply the sealant to each tooth in just a few minutes. The steps for applying it are as follows:

  1. Your dentist will carefully clean your teeth.
  2. Then, they will dry each tooth and wrap it in cotton or another absorbent material to keep it dry.
  3. To help the sealant attach to the teeth, an etching solution is sometimes used on the surfaces of the teeth to make them tough. 
  4. After that, your dentist will clean and dry the tooth.
  5. The sealant is then painted directly onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds and hardens. Sometimes your dentist can use a special curing light to help the sealant to harden.

Who Is a Candidate for Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are mainly a good alternative for children and teenagers since those are the ages when they’re more prone to getting cavities since they’re not as dedicated to cleaning their teeth as adults do.

Children’s molars come in between the ages of 6 and 12, and then again around the age of 12. Parents should apply sealants to children’s premolars and permanent molars as soon as they emerge. That way, children’s teeth can get protection from cavities between the ages of 6 to 14.

However, they’re also a good option for adults as long as the teeth they want to protect are healthy and have no signs of cavities, but the earlier you get them, the better.

Sealing teeth as soon as possible can help you prevent cavities from developing, saving time and money in the long term. Have a talk with your dentist about whether or not sealants are a good option for you and your family.

How Long Can Sealants Last In Your Mouth?

These dental coatings can protect teeth from decay for up to ten years, but you should monitor them for chipping or wear at routine dental visits. If they’re damaged in any way, your dentist can go ahead and replace them.

It is also possible for decay to penetrate a sealant that is beginning to fail. With the use of dental X-rays, your dentist will be able to diagnose and locate which ones are the ones that need replacement before it gets worse. 


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