Have you ever suffered from pain in your back teeth?
It’s no secret that our back teeth, or molars, are the most likely to cause us trouble. From impacted molars to wisdom teeth challenges, there are all kinds of issues that can crop up in the back of the mouth.
What’s worse, they are the hardest to see and the hardest to clean! So it’s no wonder most dental issues occur in our back teeth.
But for all of the challenges of keeping these teeth clean, there is a solution. Welcome to the wonderful world of dental sealants, which can strength our teeth and prevent tooth decay and cavities.
What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are a plastic resin coating, either white or clear, applied to the surfaces of your teeth. Generally, they’re used on your premolars or molars. The purpose is to fill and seal any cracks or grooves in those teeth. Dental sealants protect what’s known as the chewing surfaces, mitigating any exposure to sugars and bacteria that can damage them.
Though it’s up to your dentist to decide whether to apply sealants, they’re safe for almost everyone. Many children are good candidates for sealants, as their brushing habits are more likely to be poor. They can be applied as early as 5 years of age when the first molars typically break through. It’s even possible to have sealants applied to your child’s teeth as soon as their permanent ones come in.
How Do Dental Sealants Work?
Damage done to your teeth is inevitable. A regular dental routine of brushing and flossing will help keep your smile white and your teeth clean. However, it cannot protect you from everything.
All foods we consume contain some degree of natural acids or sugars. These chemicals get coated to our teeth via particles of food or drink as we consume them. As the particles build up and form these acids, they begin to eat into the enamel of your teeth. In time, and if left unchecked, this will begin to form cavities or tooth decay.
This kind of damage is particularly prevalent on our molars. Largely, this is due to the difficulty most toothbrushes have when reaching them. This is where dental sealants come in. They act as a secondary line of defense to protect your teeth from the sugars mentioned above and damage from acids.
Dental sealants are made of the same plastic resin that gets used for fillings. They’re light, thin, and malleable enough to be easily coated to the tooth. By filling in any cracks or crevices, the sealants block any entry pathways for bacteria and make the tooth surface strong and smooth. With no places for bacteria or particles to latch onto, your teeth stay healthy and clean.
How Dentists Apply Sealants?
The procedure your dentist will follow to apply your dental sealant is simple and painless. The following steps are all it takes to get protected teeth:
1.Your dentist will first thoroughly clean the tooth or teeth that will be coated. This is to ensure that the surface is in an ideal state for the application. Once cleaned, they may use a mouth prop to help keep your mouth open during the rest of the procedure.
2.Next, your dentist will apply a gentle, acidic solution to your teeth. The solution is designed to roughen its surface as the sealant will adhere more firmly to a rough rather than smooth area. Don’t worry; it will not cause any pain, and you don’t need to take an anesthetic to undergo the procedure.
3.Once the solution has dried, your dentist will begin applying the sealant in liquid form. The sealant will begin to harden into any cracks, creating a smooth and solid surface using a special light.
4.The sealant will dry quickly, allowing you to eat and drink normally. Your dentist may want you to book a follow-up appointment to examine the work and provide any needed repairs.
What You Need to Do
Since dental sealants are colorless and tasteless, it is easy to forget they’re even there. Though they’ll protect your teeth from any major destructive hazards, they’re not a replacement for brushing or flossing. You’ll still need to continue your usual dental hygiene regimen.
In time, your sealants may chip or wear, but this is not a problem. Your dentist will check up on your sealants at each of your regular visits. If any signs of wear and tear are present, you may need a repair or replacement. Your dentist will book you for another appointment to replace the damaged sealants.
Some things to be aware of that can cause damage to your sealants are:
- Highly Acidic Diet – Many types of foods are acidic and should be consumed in moderation. Things like citrus, seeds, nuts, or carbonated drinks and alcohol can be consumed, but in smaller amounts.
- Acid Reflux –If you frequently suffer from acid reflux, this can damage your molars. If you can control it with medications, this will help. If you cannot, then make sure you are visiting the dentist regularly so that they can keep an eye on the integrity of your sealant and fortify it if needed.
- Teeth Grinding – If you have a habit of grinding your teeth, it can weaken or break your sealant. Talk to your dentist about a mouthguard for sleeping or some other intervention to mitigate the effects of your teeth grinding.
With proper care and attention, dental sealants will last a long time, typically between 5 and 10 years. All along, they’ll protect your teeth while giving them the foundation to build and maintain good health.
Dental sealants are ideal if you are concerned about keeping your teeth clean and healthy. Talk to our West Haven, Layton, or Kaysville family dentists to learn more.