Have you ever had a dentist recommend a sealant for you or your child and wondered: “what is that” and “why do I need it”? Here are some answers to a few of
What is a Sealant?
A sealant is a protective coating that is placed in hard to clean areas of the teeth where cavity-causing bacteria resides.
Why Do we Need Sealants?
Sealants aid in preventing cavities that may form in the pits and grooves of teeth where the toothbrush cannot reach, making it difficult to clean, such as the chewing surfaces of molars and premolars. If not properly cleaned, that bacteria sits in the grooves of those teeth and causes decay to form. The sealant provides a barrier, keeping bacteria from residing in those areas. They can also minimize progression of lesions that are just beginning to form but have not yet progressed into full cavities.
At What Age do We Need Sealants?
Sealants are recommended when our permanent molars (and sometimes premolars) first come in, generally around the ages of 6 and 12. How long do they last?
Sealants last several years, but they do wear down over time. Your dentist can check them at each visit and may touch them up over time if needed.
What is the process for getting them done? The tooth is first dried and an etch material is placed on it, then after a few seconds it is rinsed off. This step helps the sealant material to form a stronger bond with the tooth.
Next the tooth is dried again and the sealant material is applied. Your dentist will use a blue curing light to make the sealant set and harden.
Sealants are quick and painless to apply, and are a great aid in preventing cavities. Ask your dentist if sealants are a good option for you and your children!
– Asha Cox, RDH