What is it
Dental sealants are a thin, plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of the teeth, usually the back premolars and molars, to protect the teeth from a build-up of plaque.
The chewing surfaces of teeth have depressions and grooves that are easy areas for plaque to collect, bacteria to form and can potentially lead to cavities. If sealants are not applied and plaque collects in these surface areas it can be difficult to remove and cause problems for your teeth later on.
Brushing teeth consistently is an effective way to reduce the risk of cavities; however, sealants are extremely effective in ensuring cavities do not have a chance to start.
Who should get sealants
The best time to get sealants applied to the teeth is when your adult premolars and molars begin to form during childhood, especially children between the ages of 6-14, who are the most susceptible to cavities.
Permanent molars begin to form between the ages of 5 and 7, often called six-year molars. The second set of permanent molars form between the ages of 11 and 14, referred to as the 12-year molars.
Occasionally, sealants are applied to baby teeth, if a child’s teeth have more and deeper grooves in the teeth, than considered normal. Protecting baby teeth is important, as they hold the space in the child’s mouth until permanent teeth develop. It is important that these teeth remain healthy so they won’t be lost prematurely during childhood.
When is it needed / Risks of not getting it done
For those molars that have a deep fit and fissures and in addition the caries-risk is high, it is necessary doing this procedure due to the risk of development of new lesions or a cavity. If it is not done, the patient will have to modify the other risk factors that make him/she vulnerable to get decays such an oral hygiene, sugar intake control and d fluoride.
How is it done
The procedure of applying sealants to the teeth is a relatively quick, pain-free and easy process. First, a thorough teeth cleaning is done to ensure the surface of the teeth is free of plaque and then the area is completely dried.
An acidic solution is applied to the surfaces where the sealants will be. This solution roughens the area slightly to ensure the sealant bonds well to the chewing surfaces. The acidic solution is then rinsed off and the sealant is painted on and then left to dry and harden. Sometimes a curing light is used to help the sealant solidify.