Dental sealants are comprised of a plastic material that is positioned on the chewing surface of permanent back teeth in order to protect them from acids and bacteria that can contribute to tooth decay. A dental hygienist will placed the plastic resin sealants into the grooves and depressions of the back teeth. Next, a light is used to cure the sealant into the enamel, ensuring it acts as a barrier and protects the tooth’s enamel surface from acids and plaque.
A cosmetic dentist may recommend dental sealants to protect vulnerable back teeth from cavities. Although brushing and flossing are important for removing plaque and food particles from the smooth surfaces of teeth, it is impossible to reach into the grooves and depressions of back teeth. Over time, plaque can begin to accumulate. Furthermore, the acid produced by bacteria present within the plaque may begin to attack the tooth’s enamel, which can cause cavities to develop. As a form of preventative dentistry, dental sealants can help to protect the most vulnerable areas of teeth.
This type of preventative dentistry is not the same as a filling, which is used to fill in a cavity after it has already formed. Instead, a cosmetic dentist may recommend a sealant in order to prevent a cavity from forming at all.
The process of placing sealants on the tooth begins by polishing the tooth’s surface. This is done to remove any food debris or plaque that may be present in the grooves of the tooth. Next, the tooth will be isolated and dried to prevent saliva from covering the surface. A dental hygienist will then etch the tooth and dry it. Finally, the sealant material will be applied to the tooth’s surface using a brush. A self-curing light will then be used for several seconds in order to ensure the sealant bonds to the surface of the tooth. The process of applying sealants is typically fast and painless and does not require you to undergo any numbing medication. After the sealant has hardened, it will form a hard plastic coating over the grooves and depressions of the tooth and you can use the tooth for chewing once again, just as you normally would.
If you think you could benefit from sealants, contact your local dentist office to schedule an appointment and learn more about sealants and how they can protect your teeth from possible future decay.