Dental sealants: What are they?
The molars and premolars are very important when it comes to chewing. It is their primary function to chew and grind on food. They have natural fissures or grooves on the surface which is used for chewing. These fissures are very tough to clean as they are very narrow and deep and sometimes even a single bristle of a toothbrush is broader. This is the reason why they are highly vulnerable to decay. In order to prevent them from decaying, sealants or protective coverings are placed on the chewing surface. Sealants smooth out the surface in order to prevent bacteria from causing tooth decay from the fissures. They work as the extra protective case for the grooved surface of a tooth. Sealants and fluorides are the two major breakthroughs when it comes to the prevention of tooth decays. Fluoride helps in the prevention of decay, thus protecting the surfaces of teeth, while sealants add that extra edge by being an extra protection for the pitted areas.
When are they needed?
They are mostly needed for children as their molars and premolars need more protection. A child’s molars and premolars are more vulnerable to cavities and tooth decay. The ages 4-17 are the most cavity-prone years. Adults also face the same problem with the teeth fissures and pits. What makes these areas so problematic is the fact that they are very hard to clean because of the super narrow fissures which can’t even be cleaned with the help of floss. Sealants are very helpful in protecting these fissures from getting eroded or decayed. If you want to protect your child’s teeth from getting eroded or facing tooth decay, it is definitely the way to go. They seal the fissures and smooth out the surface so that food particles and bacteria do not invade them. Sealants are placed only after the chewing surface of a particular molar has grown completely out of the surface of the gum. The first one is placed on the pitted areas of the first permanent molar.
Although it is less common, but dental sealants are placed on adults as well who have deep fissures that do not have fillings and are vulnerable to tooth decay.
Due to so much of action in the mouth it is quite obvious for the sealant to be lost gradually because of natural wearing and tearing of teeth. As a result, it is needed to be repeated. Dental sealants procedure goes on in the following steps:
- Firstly, your dentist will thoroughly clean the surface of the tooth.
- They are washed with water dried
- An acidic solution is applied and left for a few seconds. This solution helps for the sealant to nicely bond with the surface of the tooth.
- It is then rinsed off
- A thin layer of sealant is used to coat each tooth so that the tooth retains its natural colour
- A light with high intensity is used to solidify the sealant
However, it is important to note that sealants are not replacements for fluoride and rather, add an extra edge to the fluoride so that there is no tooth decay or the later use of several procedures for tooth decay recovery. Also, they need to be checked at regular intervals in order to analyze them for a possible re-application.