Dental sealants are an excellent additional layer of protection against tooth decay. Fluoride in toothpaste and drinking water protect the smooth surfaces of teeth, but they are less effective among the back teeth. The chewing surfaces of the back teeth contain many small pits and grooves where food and germs can stay for a long time because toothbrush bristles cannot easily brush them away. This leaves the back teeth potentially vulnerable to decay. Sealants work by keeping food and germs out of the pits and grooves.
According to Jonathan Shenkin, a pediatric dentist and spokesman for the American Dental Association, “Decades of research demonstrate that coating the biting surface of 6-year molars with a resin-based sealant can reduce cavities by up to nearly 80% immediately, and up to 60% for four years or more.”
Sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are painted on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to prevent tooth decay. The sealant quickly bonds into the depressions ad grooves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.
The procedure is a simple and painless process that only takes a few minutes per tooth. First, the tooth is thoroughly cleaned and dried. Next, a slightly acidic solution is applied to the chewing surface of the tooth designed to help the sealant bond to the tooth surface. Each tooth is then painted with a very thin layer of the sealant coating. Finally, the dentist will use a special curing light to help the sealant harden.
Dental sealants are particularly beneficial for children in the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14. At this age, it is difficult for children to brush and floss their teeth effectively enough to remove all food particles and bacteria from the pits and grooves of their back teeth. For this reason, children are excellent candidates for this extra layer of protection against tooth decay and cavities.
If you think that you or your child may be a good candidate for dental sealants, or have any questions, please call Dr. Roberts’ office.