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A dental or tooth sealant is a thin white or transparent coating that protects the biting surfaces of the premolars and molars; the back teeth where food grinding occurs. These surfaces are the most common areas where tooth decay will occur, especially in children. Premolars and molars contain dental fissures and pits where food and plaque build-up and eventually cause dental caries. These crevices have different shapes and can be so deep as to prevent toothbrush bristles from properly cleaning the areas. Consequently, they become ideal areas for bacterial growth and plaque formation.
Teeth (or dental) sealants help to keep this from occurring by sealing the fissures and pits thus blocking the build-up of bacteria, plaque, and food.
Teeth sealants are placed mostly on the premolars and molars of children. They are considerably less expensive than fillings and are very efficient. Dentists generally suggest the placement of sealants on the child’s permanent (6 year) molar when they erupt into the mouth. As these are the teeth that are most frequently decayed, the placement of sealants on these teeth are very crucial. The teeth must be completely dried when the sealants are placed, otherwise they will fail.
Dentists recommend that sealants be placed on both the premolars and molars, if your child has an increased risk for dental caries. Premolars are the smaller teeth immediately anterior to the molar teeth. Dental sealants are generally not recommended for baby teeth, however, they can be placed in high risk children. These sealants often are suggested for adults at a higher risk of dental caries. The dentist will let you know if you fit into this category.
Dental Sealant Preparation
Dental sealant application is a painless and quick dental treatment performed during a regular dental appointment. No anesthesia is required. It is crucial that children are careful to sit still during sealant placement to keep the teeth dry and allow proper placement of the sealants.
Our dentist or dental hygienist will clean the areas to be sealed and the teeth being treated will be isolated to keep them dry. Sealants are then placed in the form of a liquid, so that it reaches all of the pit and fissure areas, using a small brush or applicator. A dental light is used to set the sealants usually taking between 20-60 seconds.
Sealants may last for up to 15 years. During your child’s regular check-ups, the dentist will check both the teeth and the sealants to make sure they are in good condition. Dental sealants work well, however there are other things you can do to make sure that your child doesn’t get cavities. For instance, good oral hygiene is very important.
While dental sealants reduce dental caries, they do not prevent all cavities without additional aid. Performing very good oral hygiene while at home is required to aid in the prevention of dental caries. This is also the case for adults with dental sealants. Make sure to brush and floss twice daily, and visit the dentist for regular check-ups.