Dental sealants, sometimes referred to as fissure sealants or pit sealants, make up an important part of preventative dental care. Although nothing beats professional dental cleanings and daily brushing and flossing, we recommend sealants as an important line of defense in the prevention of cavities and tooth decay in both children and adults.
What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are like tiny shields for your teeth. They are made from a malleable material that molds to your tooth before hardening and becoming set in place. Dentists use sealants to fill the deep crevices, nooks, and crannies in molars and even the spaces between teeth to prevent the tooth-decay-causing build up of food particles, plaque, and tartar in these hard-to-clean areas.
While we recommend dental sealants for patients of all ages who have molars and pre-molars, baby and permanent teeth, they are especially important for cavity prevention in children.
What to Expect During a Dental Sealant Procedure?
Dental sealants are non-invasive, in-office procedures that only require a few minutes. They do not require any special preparations of the patient and typically take place at the end of a routine cleaning and exam.
Before applying a sealant, our dentist or dental technician will thoroughly clean the patient’s tooth and then will usually place cotton or another absorbent material around the tooth to be sealed. We will then apply a small amount of an acidic solution to the tooth’s chewing surface, which prepares the enamel for bonding with the sealant. The tooth is then rinsed and dried.
Finally, we apply the sealant to the tooth, filling the grooves and cracks to leave a smooth, easy-to-clean surface. Depending on the type of sealant applied, we will usually use a special light that reacts with and helps the sealant material to harden and set.
How Long Do Dental Sealants Last?
Semi-permanent, dental sealants are designed to be long-lasting. They do, however, undergo lots of everyday wear and tear. Depending on whether patients grind their teeth, clench their jaw, or have the habit of chewing on any hard objects, dental sealants can last for up to about ten years.
Ask a Gulf Coast Health Center Dentist about Dental Sealants
If you or your children have unfilled and/or unsealed teeth, we encourage you to schedule a consultation or talk with a Gulf Coast Health Center dentist during your next regular dental exam and cleaning.