Dental sealants can prevent cavities in children and adults for years, but are they worth the cost and potential risk?
Brushing your teeth is important, but dental sealants may be the best way to prevent kids from getting cavities.
A recent reportTrusted Source from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has touted the benefits of the relatively simple and inexpensive procedure in children.
Dental sealants are a thin coating that is painted on teeth to protect them from cavities.
What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are plastic coatings that are usually placed on the chewing (occlusal) surface of the permanent back teeth — the molars and premolars — to help protect them from decay.
What the research shows
The CDC report states that dental sealants prevent 80 percent of cavities for two years after application.
They also continue to protect against 50 percent of cavities for up to four years.
The sealants can be retained in the mouth for up to nine years, according to the CDC.
About 43 percent of 6- to 11-year-old children have a dental sealant. Children from low-income households were 20 percent less likely to have sealants than children from higher-income households.
School-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants.
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.
When are dental sealants placed?
The first dental sealant to be placed is usually on the fissure of the first permanent molar tooth, once the chewing surface of the tooth has erupted completely beyond the gum. This tooth grows in behind the baby teeth. If the chewing (occlusal) surfaces of these teeth are sealed, the dental sealant will help protect the tooth. Except for the wisdom teeth, which come through much later, the molars and premolars continue to erupt until eleven-thirteen years of age and the chewing surfaces of these teeth can be sealed after they have erupted beyond the gum.
Are dental sealants only placed on the chewing surface of molar and premolar permanent teeth?
Dental sealants are usually placed on the chewing surfaces of these teeth because these are the areas and teeth that typically have deep fissures. Dental sealants are sometimes also used on other permanent teeth if they have grooves or pits, to help protect these surfaces. In some children, the molars in the primary dentition (baby teeth) also have grooves that could benefit from dental sealants and in this situation, your dentist at Baytown Gentle Dental in texas or hygienist may recommend dental sealants on the chewing surfaces of these primary teeth.
Can dental sealants be placed on the teeth of adults?
Yes — while less common, dental sealants are sometimes placed in adults at risk for caries, on deep grooves and fissures that do not already have fillings or dental sealants.
What do dental sealants look like?
Dental sealants can be clear, white, or have a slight tint depending upon the dental sealant used.
How are dental sealants placed?
Firstly the tooth surface is thoroughly cleaned with a paste and rotating the brush by your dentist at Baytown Gentle Dental in texas or hygienist. Next, the tooth is washed with water and dried. Then an acidic solution is placed on the fissured area of the tooth’s chewing surface for several seconds before being rinsed off. This creates small microscopic areas and a fine rougher surface than the surrounding tooth enamel, which can be seen with a microscope. The rough surface and microscopic areas enable the dental sealant to attach to the tooth. After the tooth is dried again, the liquid dental sealant is placed on the tooth and hardened. Dental sealants are hardened by using a light that hardens the dental sealant, or sometimes by using a two-component dental sealant that sets without using a light. Once the dental sealant has hardened it becomes a hard plastic varnish coating, and you can chew on the tooth again.
How long does a dental sealant last?
Dental sealants have been used and have been proven to be effective since the 1970s. Many studies have shown that they are effective in helping to prevent decay on chewing (occlusal) surfaces. Dental sealants can last for many years. If necessary, it is also possible to place a new dental sealant on the tooth.
Do I still need to use fluoride if I have dental sealants?
Yes. Dental sealants only protect the surface area that they are placed on. Fluoride helps protect all the surfaces of the tooth from decay and cavities.
We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today
Dr. Seif received an award in Aesthetic Dentistry and an Advanced Standing Achievement Certificate and held a position as a part-time clinical instructor.
Dr. Seif has more than 15 years of experience as a dentist and has obtained two dental degrees. Dr. Seif earned his first degree in dentistry in Syria in 1998 and practiced general dentistry until coming to the US to advance his education by earning a second dental degree from Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, a world-renown dental institute. While at Loma Linda, Dr. Seif received an award in Aesthetic Dentistry and an Advanced Standing Achievement Certificate and held a position as a part-time clinical instructor.
Dr. Seif’s compassion and friendly nature is evident to his patients. He believes that every individual should be treated in a kind, caring and respectful manner. Dr. Seif is dedicated to life-long learning and enjoys participating in post-graduate courses that enable him to provide his patients and community with the excellent dental care he believes every person deserves.
Moving from the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 2014, Dr. Seif now calls Baytown his home. Along with cooking, friends, family, and his dog, Sophie, he enjoys southern culture. He is enthralled by the friendliness and hospitality he finds in Texas, saying, “This is exactly the kind of community I want to live and practice in!”