Sealants

What Are Sealants?

Sealants are used most commonly on the permanent back teeth (premolars and molars), and they are the most effective way to prevent tooth decay in both adults and children. Sealants are thin, protective plastic coatings that get painted on the chewing (occlusal) surfaces of the existing molars and form to those surfaces to fill in the cracks (fissures) and holes thus providing a barrier from food, debris and bacteria. These fissures are often deep and difficult to clean as they can be narrower than the single bristle of a toothbrush. Without protection, the plaque may become lodged in the grooves of the chewing teeth. The acid from the bacteria attacks the enamel causing decay and, eventually, cavities.

Do I Need To Get Sealants?

At the Dental Studio of South Tulsa, we believe that prevention is always better than uncomfortable dental work that takes time and money. We also know that every patient’s situation is unique which is why we will only recommend the use of sealants if we truly believed it to be a beneficial procedure for your dental health. Although not a permanent solution, sealants are a great way to help prevent tooth decay. Most sealants help protect the tooth from approximately 80% of cavities for up to two years and continue to protect against 50% of cavities for up to four years. No matter how well we may take care of your teeth, anyone can experience tooth decay at any time. Fluoride is a great way to protect all of the surfaces of your teeth and help prevent decay, but if you are looking for an extra layer of added protection, dental sealants help with the grooved and pitted areas by providing a smooth covering over the fissures. Of course, our staff will always recommend sealants but especially if your teeth are prone to cavities. Once you receive your sealants, we will be sure to check them during your routine dental exams. If the condition of your sealants appear to be compromised in any way, our dental staff may recommend replacements.

 

For children, the molars in the primary dentition (baby teeth) also have grooves that could benefit from sealants. However, dental sealants only cover the chewing surface of the tooth so the use of fluoride to help protect the rest of the tooth from decay is definitely recommended.

Sealants vs. Fillings

Tooth decay happens when bacteria on a tooth is left untreated. Left alone for a long period of time, this tooth decay can become a permanent hole in the tooth. Cavities are most commonly found in the grooves of the back teeth. While sealants are generally used to protect an area that may be more susceptible to tooth decay and cavities, fillings are used to fill the existing cavities. Sealants provide a layer of protection around your teeth and also give you the opportunity to take control of your dental health while avoiding the need for costly dental work. Without a doubt, a tooth without a cavity is going to be stronger and healthier than a tooth with untreated decay or a filling. Sealants are an easy, quick, and painless way to avoid the trouble cavities can bring.

How Noticeable Are Dental Sealants?

There is also no need to worry about how the sealants might look in your mouth, even if they are placed near the front of your mouth, because the products we use are designed to mimic the natural appearance of your teeth making them nearly invisible. Since the chewing surfaces of the back teeth is the usual place where deep fissures occur, sealants are generally placed there. However, some sealants can be placed on other permanent teeth if they have deep grooves or pits. Dental sealants can be clear, white or have a slight tint depending on the color you choose.

How Noticeable Are Dental Sealants?

There is also no need to worry about how the sealants might look in your mouth, even if they are placed near the front of your mouth, because the products we use are designed to mimic the natural appearance of your teeth making them nearly invisible. Since the chewing surfaces of the back teeth is the usual place where deep fissures occur, sealants are generally placed there. However, some sealants can be placed on other permanent teeth if they have deep grooves or pits. Dental sealants can be clear, white or have a slight tint depending on the color you choose.

How Are Dental Sealants Applied?

The first step in applying the sealant is to have one of our dentists or dental hygienists thoroughly clean the tooth with a paste and a rotating brush. Then the tooth is washed with water and dried. Next an acidic solution is placed on the fissured area of the tooth’s chewing surface for a few seconds before it is rinsed off. The acidic solution creates small microscopic areas with a finer, rougher surface than the surrounding tooth enamel. The rough surface enables the dental sealant to attach to the tooth. The tooth is dried a second time and a liquid dental sealant is then placed on the tooth and hardened. The hardening process usually happens through the use of a light unless a two-component dental sealant is used which can harden independent of a light. After the dental sealant has hardened it becomes a hard plastic varnish coating strong enough to allow you to chew on the tooth again.

 

Although in use since the 1970s, the technology of dental sealants continues to improve each year. Some patients have even had their dental sealants lasting longer than ten years. If you are interested in dental sealants for yourself or your family, the friendly staff at the Dental Studio of South Tulsa is here to help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and find out more about how sealants may be beneficial to you!

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