Children and teenagers are prone to developing tooth decay and cavities because they frequently snack on sugary foods and beverages without proper dental hygiene. Dental sealants are a thin coating of composite resin or glass ionomer; dentists apply the chewing surfaces of the molars. Sealants are also used on the lingual surfaces of front teeth because it is an effective, safe, and painless technique to prevent cavities.
Dental sealants help keep food particles, bacteria, and acids out of the chewing surfaces of the tooth, forming a protective shield on the pits and fissures of the teeth. The application of dental sealants is usually on permanent teeth without cavities confirming dental sealants for adults are also an option if they don’t have any restorations or implants in their mouths.
Dental sealants reduce the risk of tooth decay by up to 80 percent for the first two years in children and teenagers. The protection continues against 50 percent of tooth decay for another four years. The application remains on children’s teeth for up to a decade.
The American Academy of pediatric dentistry recommends dental sealants on the biting surfaces of teeth in children for the following reasons.
Children within six and 11 years of age devoid of dental sealants are three times more likely to develop cavities.
Dental sealants are most effective in preventing cavities in children’s newly developed permanent teeth, including the premolars, first, and second molars. Therefore, the sooner dental sealants are placed on children’s teeth, are better. Children’s first molar develops at around age six and the second around age 12. However, teenagers are also suitable for dental sealants.
Adults with deeper grooves in their back teeth, making them vulnerable to tooth decay, are also suitable candidates for dental sealants. The deeper grooves on the back teeth are challenging to clean with a regular toothbrush. Adults can also have dental sealants so long as they are not affected by cavities or have lost their teeth.
Two categories of dental sealants are available, made from composite resin and glass ionomer.
Glass ionomer sealants go through an acid-base reaction when setting on the patient’s teeth. While posing no tooth sealant dangers, glass ionomer sealants release fluoride to help strengthen the tooth enamel for several years. As a result, these sealants are highly effective in reducing the chances of dental decay by up to 35 percent. The sealants blend with the teeth as they are tooth-colored. Unfortunately, glass ionomer sealants have a lower retention rate than composite resin requiring more maintenance. However, these sealants offer better protection against cavities than composite resin sealants and are better considered dental sealants holistic.
The other variety is composite resin applied to the teeth using a curing light. Composite resin sealants are made up of a plastic component and ceramic and blend with the natural color of the teeth.
Composite resin sealants are durable and protect against dental cavities for up to a decade. However, this variety does not release fluoride, and when the bond wears down, the protection against cavities also diminishes, unlike glass ionomer sealants.
Dental sealants require merely one visit to the dentist’s office to complete the application. The procedure is relatively fast and painless, and patients can return to their regular dietary and lifestyle habits minutes after the treatment.
Dental sealants are immediate repairs made inside the mouth and not in a dental laboratory. First, dentists clean and dry the tooth and prepare it for sealing.
Second, dentists apply an etching solution into the grooves of the tooth, leaving it there for 20 to 30 seconds. The etching solution opens tiny pores on the enamel surface where the dental sealant bonds.
Finally, dentists rinse the etching solution and dry the tooth again before placing the sealant material into the grooves of the patient’s tooth. Ultimately they cure the sealant with a dental light or chemically depending on the type of sealant the patient has chosen.
Dental sealants are entirely safe for the teeth, although many people have expressed concerns about the toxicity of sealants stating they contain compounds turning into BPA upon contact with saliva. However, the toxicity isn’t likely to send patients to emergency dentistry in Shawnee seeking treatments after an application.
Dr. Keith Jessop recommends dental sealants as safe and effective measures for cavity prevention, although they may require reapplications over time. No restrictions are imposed on patients or any precautions to take after having dental sealants placed.