These sealants consist of thin, plastic coatings that are painted onto the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This usually includes the premolars and molars in the back of the mouth, as these teeth are most susceptible to developing tooth decay. Once in place, the sealants will quickly bond to the grooves and depressions of the teeth in order to form a protective shield that covers the enamel of the teeth.
Who Can Benefit from Sealants?
Children and teens are obvious candidates for dental sealants since the chances of developing decay begin early in life. Children should have sealants applied as soon as the teeth come in so that they can adequately protect the teeth during ages 6-14, which tend to be the most cavity-prone years.
At the Dental Appointment
The dental sealant application process is both painless and simple. A hygienist or dentist can apply the sealant in only a few minutes by following a series of steps:
- The teeth that will be sealed are cleaned thoroughly
- The teeth are dried, and cotton is placed around the teeth to ensure that they stay dry.
- An acidic solution is placed onto the chewing surfaces of the teeth to be sealed in order to roughen them. This will help the sealant to bond appropriately to the teeth.
- The teeth are rinsed off and dried.
- The dentist applies the sealant to the prepared surface, where it will bond to the tooth and harden. At times, a curing light will be used to help the sealant to harden.
Dental sealants should be regularly examined in order to check for chipping or wearing. With adequate maintenance, sealants can help to protect the teeth from decay for as many as 10 years.