A dental sealant is a thin plastic coating applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of healthy, decay-free teeth. Sealants create a physical barrier that literally “seals out” the food and bacteria that cause tooth decay. Properly applied, sealants are 100% effective at preventing tooth decay.
Sealants are most often used on the back teeth, which have deep grooves that are difficult to reach and are often too narrow to be effectively cleaned by toothbrush bristles. Because these teeth are difficult to clean, food and bacteria can become trapped there, making them more at risk for decay and cavities. Although fluoride is a great tool in the fight against tooth decay, it only works on the smooth surfaces of the teeth. In order to protect the grooves of the teeth, sealants are most effective.
Sealants are a long-lasting, cost-effective way to maintain dental health. Sealant protection for one tooth typically costs less than a traditional amalgam (silver) filling and a fraction of the cost of a crown restoration that could be needed to address damage from decay.
Sealants are not just for children
Both children and adults can benefit from the added protection that sealants provide. With children, the enamel on a newly erupted tooth takes a full three years to mature. This leaves young teeth especially vulnerable to decay. Plus, kids often have inconsistent oral hygiene as they are still learning techniques and the importance of routine brushing. Sealants can help counter these vulnerabilities.
Adults are also susceptible to tooth decay, due to a variety of factors (poor oral hygiene, dry mouth conditions, low fluoride intake, etc.), and should consider sealants if they are have an increased risk for cavities.
Benefits of sealants:
- Sealants help maintain dental health for children with new permanent teeth and prevent future dental problems in adults.
- Sealants save time and money in the long run by preventing tooth decay–especially when risk factors are present.
- Sealants are highly durable, very effective, and can last for many years.
Only one appointment is required to seal all of the back teeth. First, the teeth will be thoroughly cleaned with air abrasion. Then, an etching solution is applied to roughen the surface of the teeth so the sealant material can better adhere. Finally, the sealant material is applied to the grooves of the teeth, and an ultraviolet light or laser is used to harden the material, firmly bonding it to the teeth to create a tight protective seal.
At Advanced Cosmetic & General Dentistry of DC, we use the latest technology and materials to offer sealant procedures that are quick, safe, and effective. Following treatment, we will provide instructions for the care of your teeth. While sealants are extremely effective in helping prevent cavities, proper oral hygiene, good eating habits, and regular dental visits are vital to maintaining the health of your teeth.
Feel free to contact us at our Washington, DC dental office if you have any questions about sealants or wish to schedule an appointment.