Brushing your teeth and flossing are the first lines of defense for preventing cavities and tooth decay. However, your dentist may recommend dental sealants as an additional preventative measure for children. Sealants are a plastic material that fills the pits and grooves of a person’s teeth. They act as barriers, preventing bacteria and food from damaging the teeth. When placed on permanent molars, they can reduce the risk of cavities by 80 percent. While dental sealants can be applied to anyone’s teeth, dentists usually recommend them for children.
The process to apply sealants isn’t painful or scary. It only takes a few minutes for each tooth. First, your dentist cleans your tooth, paying special attention to the chewing surfaces, so that the sealant will adhere to your tooth. Next, your dentist places the sealant onto the chewing surface. Once placed on the chewing surface, the sealant bonds to your tooth and hardens. Lastly, your dentist may use a special light to help the sealant harden. Your dentist can apply sealants to multiple teeth in one visit.
If your dentist applies sealants to your teeth, you won’t feel them because they are smooth. You also don’t have to worry that other people will see that you have sealants because not only are they clear or white in color, sealants aren’t visible when you smile or talk.
When maintaining your sealants, it’s important to remember that they don’t last forever. Typically, sealants can last up to 10 years. Over time, chewing breaks down sealants, which limits their effectiveness. If your dentist sees that your sealants are starting to wear down, he/she may recommend applying another layer.
Remember, just because sealants were applied to your teeth that doesn’t mean you can slack off on brushing and flossing. Sealants only protect the surface they are covering, which isn’t your entire set of teeth. You still need to practice good oral hygiene for a healthy smile. We always recommend that you model flossing for your children as well. Then, they will learn to floss and you will floss at the same time!!
If you’re interested in sealants, then contact Huntingdon Valley Dental Arts and schedule an appointment with Dr. Miller or Dr. Makrauer.