The majority of the dental procedures we have written about on this site have been aimed at correcting a problem. For example, you only need a filling if you already have a cavity. Or you only require a bridge or implant if you have already lost a tooth. But what about procedures that are designed to prevent problems rather than just correct them? Are any of those types of procedure successful and worth considering?
In this article, we will answer your questions about dental sealants. How do sealants work? Who should get them? How long do they last? And how effective are they? Hopefully, this article will hope people considering dental sealants to make up their mind about consulting a dentist.
What are dental sealants exactly?
A dental sealant is a very thin film, made from plastic, which is applied to the surface of the back teeth. This plastic film hardens and then protects the back teeth against plaque, bacteria and ultimately, decay.
Why do people need sealants?
Often people, especially children, have difficulty cleaning their back teeth. This can be because those molars at the back are difficult to reach. Alternatively, it could be because those molars have grooves or nooks where food can gather but the toothbrush can’t quite reach.
On these occasions, your dentist may recommend sealants as a way of protecting the teeth so that they do not decay and cause cavities. It is therefore a preventative measure which may help you to avoid further, more complex dental repair work in the future.
Is it painful?
No. That’s why, if you are dental phobic, sealants can be a good idea. By taking steps to protect your teeth now, you may be able to stop them from deteriorating and therefore avoid some of the more painful dental work.
What happens during the procedure?
As we mentioned above, it is a painless procedure that can be done fairly quickly during just one visit to the dentist. Firstly, the teeth are properly cleaned so that no debris is caught under the sealant. A solution is applied to the teeth to help the sealant adhere and, finally, the sealant itself is put on the teeth. If you look after them, your sealants can protect your teeth for up to a decade.
Are sealants safe for children?
Yes, dental sealants are often recommended for children’s teeth as they can protect them against decay during the years when the teeth are most susceptible. It also hopefully means that parents can avoid expensive dental treatments throughout a large part of the childhood.
How do I look after my sealants?
Looking after your sealants is a straightforward process. You simply need to ensure that you are brushing regularly. You must also ensure that you have regular check-ups with your dentist, so that they can check that your sealants are still protecting your teeth. Sometimes, sealants can chip or wear, but new layers can be applied by your dentist.