Are dental sealants effective?
You may not be able to see them, or even feel them, but your molars have numerous pits and grooves that make them highly-susceptible to decay. While brushing and flossing regularly help prevent troublesome cavities, it isn’t always easy to reach all those little depressions on your chewing surfaces. A regularly missed spot, which can be narrower than a single bristle of a toothbrush, can eventually lead to the intrusion of bacteria. Cavities develop when the acid from the bacteria in the plaque destroys the enamel.
What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are a translucent plastic coating placed on the occlusal (chewing) surface of your permanent molars and premolars. These airtight plastic shields help protect the many “fissures” or grooves on your back teeth from decay. Dental sealants were developed more than 50 years ago but weren’t utilized much until the 1970s. Today dentists use sealants to help people protect their teeth for a lifetime. The protection is so effective that some health insurance programs pay for sealants.
How are dental sealants applied?
Applying a dental sealant is very quick and pain free. After cleaning your tooth, your dentist will lightly etch it with an abrasive substance to allow for better sealant adhesion. The sealant is then painted on the surface of the tooth enamel where it bonds. A warm light is used to cure the sealant and allow it to harden. The smooth area effectively seals off the tooth from bacteria.
Who can benefit from dental sealants?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tooth decay affects nearly 70 percent of Americans under 19 years old resulting in cavities. Young children are excellent candidates for dental sealants as they provide added protection from decay. Many children have sealants applied to the chewing surface of their first molars (around age six) and then again, to their second molars (around age 12). Even if a child already has some indication of decay, sealants have proven to ward off further damage.
Dental sealants are typically used on children’s teeth but some dentists will apply them to adults at risk for cavities due to deep fissures. They can also be used to repair cavities, malformed or broken teeth.
How long do dental sealants last?
Dental sealants need to be reapplied every five to 10 years. Your dentist can inspect your sealants during regular cleanings and examinations to determine whether they need to be reapplied. While dental sealants are effective in protecting the surface of your teeth from decay, it’s important to remember they do not prevent gum disease or oral cancer. A commitment to a lifetime of oral care is essential.
Please contact Cambridge Family Dentistry for a free consultation if you have any questions or concerns about using sealants to protect your teeth from decay.
Please contact us by calling:
(316) 687-2110 or toll-free (877) 687-2110.
We look forward to meeting you.
The Cambridge Family Dentistry clinic is located at 2020 N. Webb Road in Wichita, Kansas