Cavities, also known as dental carries, sometimes occur on tooth surfaces or in-between teeth. Brushing teeth regularly may not be enough to prevent cavities from forming, because it’s difficult for either manual or electric toothbrush bristles to clean between the tiny grooves and chewing surfaces of teeth. If these are left untreated, tiny cracks or pits are the start of tooth decay.
Dental sealants are a kind of resin film that prevents cavities from developing. After application by Dr. Muller or a hygienist, these sealants bond to the tooth surface and harden. They work by sealing the surface of the tooth and protecting it from foods and harmful bacteria.
Tiny cracks or grooves on the teeth are smooth and, because it’s less likely to find a hospitable environment on the sealed surface, cavity-causing plaque can’t grow. That’s why sealants can make regular tooth-brushing and flossing easier and much more effective, too.
When to Use Dental Sealants
Most frequently, we recommend sealants for children’s permanent molars but patients of all ages may benefit from them. For example, a child may suffer early tooth decay in his or her baby teeth, and we may recommend dental sealants to protect the child’s oral health.
Children at risk for dental cavities should receive dental sealants when the first permanent molars present. For most children, this happens at about six years of age. Since sealants often last three to five years, Dr. Muller and his staff will regularly check their integrity and reapply sealants when needed. If a sealant comes off, let the us know. Sealants work only when they’re properly bonded to the patient’s teeth in need of protection.
When the child’s next new molars appear–usually at about twelve years of age–he or she should have dental sealants applied again.
Dental Sealants as Preventive Dental Care
Muller Family Dentistry recommends sealants as a part of a preventive care program. They are easily and quickly applied. In most cases, we can apply dental sealants in a matter of minutes and during a single visit. Numbing the patient’s mouth is unnecessary because there’s no pain associated with the application. Most insurance companies pay for their patients’ sealants as part of preventive dental care.
Before Applying Dental Sealants
Our office may have a hygienist clean the patient’s molars on the day dental sealants are applied. If a dental cleaning isn’t necessary, the patient or his or her caregiver should brush the teeth well on that day to remove any food particles or surface bacteria.
After Receiving Dental Sealants
After the patient receives the sealants, it’s important to continue to brush and floss twice a day. Though sealants protect teeth surfaces, they aren’t applied to the small spaces between teeth. It’s possible to develop cavities between the teeth even with properly applied sealants, so it’s important to maintain daily home care and regular dental cleanings as recommended by Muller Family Dentistry.