Even with regular brushing and flossing, tooth decay can happen — especially in kids and teens. Cavities tend to develop more frequently in teeth with deep grooves and uneven surfaces, such as the molars. However, dental sealants can provide a barrier of protection between the teeth and bacteria that causes decay.
What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants do exactly what their name implies. They seal the surface of the tooth, making it difficult for tooth decay to develop.
The sealant material is made from a tough white liquid plastic (a BPA-free medical-grade resin, to be more specific). This material bonds with the tooth and, once dried, can stay in place for three, five or even 10 years before it naturally wears down. Though sealants can’t permanently solve the problem of tooth decay, they take a bite out of cavities. Generally sealants are white or clear, so they blend in naturally with the tooth.
At Sprout Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, we offer a range of preventive care treatments, dental sealants, to help protect your teeth for years to come.
Why Do Dental Sealants Matter?
Some people go their whole lives without experiencing tooth decay. Nevertheless, many children and adults are prone to getting cavities.
Dentists can repair teeth damaged by cavities using advanced equipment and techniques, but excessive tooth decay can weaken a strong tooth. Over time, patients who keep getting cavities may end up with compromised teeth and more invasive treatments, like fillings, crowns, and root canals.
Dental sealants help avoid short-term and long-term problems and costs associated with tooth decay. Plus, sealants are inexpensive to apply and take little time to put into place. Our patients can expect a relatively quick and easy procedure thanks to the expertise of our pediatric dentist, Dr. Dana Fox, and our skilled team of assistants and hygienists.
Who Should Get Dental Sealants?
Any patient can be a candidate for dental sealants. However, dentists usually recommend sealants for children, pre-teens and teens. At Sprout Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, Dr. Dana will evaluate your child to see if he or she is a good candidate for dental sealants and offer treatment on a case-by-case basis.
Most commonly, dental sealants are applied to the first and second sets of permanent molars. These teeth usually grow in around ages 6 and 12.
Studies have shown that the fewer cavities children get in childhood, the fewer they will have in adulthood. Additionally, a cavity-free mouth in kids has been linked to improved academic achievement and social confidence in school-aged children.
Of course, all patients who are highly susceptible to tooth decay may want to ask their dentists about the possibility of dental sealants as a preventive measure. Generally speaking, having sealants applied to your child’s permanent molars is considered the standard of care in pediatric dentistry, so most patients opt to have the treatment completed.
How Do Dentists Apply Sealants?
Getting dental sealants in Portland is a relatively quick process that requires no numbing agents. At our office, Dr. Dana will start by cleaning the teeth with a gritty toothpaste to remove any residual plaque stuck in the grooves. Next, we will apply an etching solution to the surface of the teeth. The etching solution helps the sealant resin properly attach to the tooth.
After rinsing off the etching solution and drying the teeth, we will paint the resin sealant onto the chewing surface of the tooth (where the grooves are) using a small paintbrush. The resin will be runny, working its way into the uneven surfaces of the tooth. Finally, we will use a special LED light to dry the sealant within seconds. Thanks to our simple procedure, a dental sealant application typically takes just a minute.
What to Expect After Getting Dental Sealants
Patients who receive dental sealants rarely notice them after the procedure. The sealants may make the tops of the molars feel a little smoother to the tongue, but they shouldn’t change the bite pattern radically. All the sealants do is ensure that food doesn’t get trapped in the molars where it can begin to damage the integrity of the teeth.
After the sealant is cured and dried by using the blue LED light, patients are allowed to eat and drink right away. No waiting necessary.
Of course, patients who get sealants still have to brush, floss and come for regular dental checkups. Proper oral hygiene is essential to keep cavities from recurring throughout the mouth.
Do you think your child could benefit from dental sealants? Contact the team at Sprout Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics today to set up an appointment.