What are Dental Sealants, Who Should Get Them, and How Long Do They Last?

There are a lot of misconceptions about dental sealants, including the idea that they are “just for kids”.  Sealants are a great preventive dental treatment for a wide variety of situations.  We’ll explain what sealants do and who should have them in this blog.

What are Sealants?

Dental sealants are a preventive treatment, that involves applying a thin layer of bonded resin over deep grooves and pits in a tooth.  The goal is to fill in the deep grooves and pits, which are high risk for plaque collection and cavities.  They also “seal” out future plaque collection and make the surface easier to clean.

Dental sealants are not an invasive procedure.  They do not require any drilling or anesthetic.  It takes only about one minute to apply a sealant to a tooth, and it causes no pain or discomfort at all.  The only potential negative effect is a bad taste, which we can quickly rinse away.

How do Sealants Improve Dental Health?

Dental sealants can literally stop cavities from developing on certain surfaces of the teeth.  The bone created between the resin material and the enamel of the teeth is impenetrable by cavity-causing bacteria.  By filling in the deep grooves, a sealant produces a smooth, flat surface that is less likely to retain dental plaque and easier for the patient to clean with toothbrush bristles.

Studies show that people who receive dental sealants on their teeth experience less tooth decay over their lifetime.  Cavities are a bacterial infection of the hard structures of a tooth.  These infections can spread into surrounding tissues in the jaws and lead to life-threatening situations. 

Dental sealants actually improve oral health for a lifetime!

Who Should Get Sealants?

One of the most common misconceptions about sealants is that they are “just for kids”.  It is true that they are beneficial for young children, who are not adept at plaque removal.  However, they are also effective in sealing out decay on adult teeth as well.

All of the back teeth (premolars and molars) have grooves and pits on their chewing surfaces.  These are high-risk sites for decay to start because it is difficult to remove the plaque out of these grooves and pits, even for great brushes.  Take a look at your back teeth.  Do you see any dark stains on the chewing surfaces?

Those are warning signs.  Any groove or pit that is deep enough to collect stain is deep enough to collect bacteria and develop decay. 

At your next visit, talk to Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara, or Dr. Summer about which teeth in your mouth could benefit from sealants.

How Long do Sealants Last?

They can last as long as your teeth do!

Dental sealants do require some maintenance and care for long-term success.  You must avoid habits like chewing ice, which can break the bond of a dental sealant with the tooth.  You should also avoid acidic foods and beverages, which can lead to acid erosion around the sealant.  Those who clench or grind their teeth are also at risk for dislodging or breaking of sealants, so you should wear any recommended protective appliances.

With the right care, your sealants can last as long as you do!

More Questions about Dental Sealants?

Call Prosper Family Dentistry at 972-347-1145 to schedule a visit with any of our dentists or dental hygienists.  We can answer any question you have about sealants and assess your unique situation.  We love helping our patients prevent cavities and maintain great oral health over their lifetimes!

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