Protective Dental Sealants
Tooth decay (cavity) is the most common oral health concern affecting both adults and children. Thorough at-home hygiene, regular preventive dental checkups, and avoiding sugary or acidic foods is typically effective in preventing cavities. However, even patients who take great care of their teeth may find themselves struggling to control tooth decay. Dental sealants offer a great preventive dentistry solution for Trinity Dental patients with chronic cavities. They seal out decay-causing bacteria, plaque, and tartar, significantly reducing risk for tooth decay.
What are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are made out of a monomer plastic material. These plastics are applied in a liquid state, and they harden into position when exposed to a low heat light. Once in place, the clear plastic coating seals out potentially destructive materials to keep smiles whole and healthy.
Who Should consider Dental Sealants?
Many patients believe that dental sealants are just for kids. We do often recommend sealants for both primary and adult teeth for kids because they are still developing both their dental structures and their at-home hygiene skills. Children also tend to consume more foods with sugars that can increase risk for decay. However, adults may wish to consider dental sealants if they meet any of the following conditions:
- Chronic tooth decay, one or more cavities a year
- Very deep pits and grooves in biting surfaces of teeth
- Thinning tooth enamel due to aging
How are Dental Sealants Placed?
The dental sealant placement process is quick and painless. We can usually apply a coat of sealant as part of any dental checkup. There’s no need to numb the mouth, since patients will not typically experience any discomfort during the dental sealant placement process. Most patients only receive dental sealants over their back teeth (molars) where the deep pits and grooves in biting surfaces can lead to excessive accumulation of decay-causing plaque and tartar. However, there are some patients who choose to apply dental sealants to all of their teeth. We’ll work with you to determine the best treatment options for your unique smile.
Once we’ve determined which teeth should receive sealants, we dry a section of teeth and protect the surrounding soft tissue. Then, a thin coat of liquid dental sealant is painted onto the surfaces of teeth. A low heat curing light may be used to quickly dry the sealant in place. During the application process, the sealant material may have a white, gray, or cloudy hue, but it will dry completely clear. We continue this process until all of the teeth are coated in sealant. Following placement, sealants can last for several years as long as patients maintain good at home hygiene and regular dental office visits. Patients with bruxism (chronic teeth grinding and clenching) should take special care to use their protective mouthguards as directed so as not to grind away the sealant coating.
How Long do Dental Sealants Last?
Every patient is different, but one application of dental sealants usually last several years. Some patients maintain a single dental sealant application for as much as a decade. The average patient's’ dental sealants will last about five years. Patients who chronically grind and clench their teeth will likely need to have dental sealants reapplied frequently in addition to protecting their teeth with nightguards during sleep.