Even when done properly, home brushing and flossing may not be enough. It can be difficult for your toothbrush to get at hard-to-reach places in your mouth. These areas can develop tooth decay if left unattended. That is why our doctors recommend dental sealants. Dental sealants are a tooth-colored acrylic “coating” that is painted onto the tooth’s surface.
Why are dental sealants placed on teeth?
The chewing surfaces of the molar and premolar teeth have grooves — “fissures” — that make them vulnerable to decay. These fissures can be deep, are difficult to clean, and can be narrower than even a single bristle of a toothbrush. Plaque accumulates in these areas, and the acid from bacteria in the plaque attacks the enamel and cavities can develop. Fluoride helps prevent decay and helps protect all the surfaces of the teeth, dental sealants provide extra protection for the grooved and pitted areas by providing a smooth surface covering over the fissured area.
Dental sealants protect your enamel from plaque and food particles that your toothbrush and floss may miss.
It takes only minutes to apply dental sealants to each tooth. Once applied, the cracks and grooves will become smoother. It will be easier to brush your teeth with sealants in place.
Both children and adults can receive dental sealants. They are often applied after permanent teeth have erupted. In general, dental sealants last between three and five years before a reapplication is necessary. Sealants applied during childhood may last into adulthood. If your sealant comes off, please let your doctor know so your teeth can be re-sealed as they are only effective when fully intact.
Then next time you visit the office, be sure to ask about dental sealants and if they are an option for you or your family members.