What are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are a thin plastic coating typically applied to the chewing surfaces of the molars and sometimes pre-molars.
Why are Dental Sealants Used For?
Deep grooves and depressions in a tooth can trap food particles and plaque that brushing and flossing won’t easily dislodge. The trapped material can give rise to harmful bacteria and tooth decay. A tooth sealant provides a barrier that keeps the food particles and plaque from getting trapped in these deep grooves and therefore greatly decreases the chance you will develop tooth decay.
How are Dental Sealants Applied?
Application is simple, painless, no anesthesia necessary, and only takes a few minutes per tooth. First, the teeth are cleaned. Next, a gel is applied to the surface of the teeth. Once it dries, the mouth is rinsed and dried again. Finally, the tooth sealant is painted onto the tooth and may be cured with a special dental light.
There’s no drilling or elaborate preparation, and the sealant itself doesn’t cause irritation or have an unpleasant odor. Because dental sealants are clear or slightly tinted, they’re effectively invisible. Patients who run their tongues over sealed teeth may notice a slight difference in texture (although many do not), but the teeth are still smooth, and the difference isn’t unpleasant or uncomfortable.
How Long do Dental Sealants Last?
A tooth sealant typically lasts five to ten years. As you’d expect, bad habits like chewing on pencils or ice can wear them down faster just as they stress your natural teeth enamel. Your dentist will monitor the condition of dental sealants during the patient’s regular checkups and will advise him or her when tooth sealants should be reapplied.