Sealants: An Excellent Way to Prevent Tooth Decay

It’s a celebration! Happy National Children’s Dental Health Month. This year’s theme is “Sealants Make Sense.” Although dental sealants are very effective at preventing tooth decay, the preventive dental procedure is vastly underutilized. With cavities being the most prevalent chronic condition among children and teens, preventing decay by placing sealants indeed makes sense. In honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month, here is one way to help prevent cavities from forming on your kids’ teeth. It’s easy, painless, and less expensive.

What exactly is a sealant? A sealant is a thin dental material that serves as a protective coating on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth.

The chewing surfaces of your back teeth have little grooves that can be a reservoir for small food particles.  When these particles aren’t properly removed from the teeth, the natural bacteria in your mouth feasts on these particles then produce an acid that if left on the teeth will result in a hole forming in your teeth.

To prevent these holes from occurring, sealants can be painted onto those grooves in your teeth functioning as a protective shield. The sealant covers the grooves thereby preventing food particles from getting into the grooves inhibiting the ability of the acid to adhere to the teeth. Basically, sealants are like raincoats. They keep food, bacteria, and acid off the chewing surfaces of the teeth.

Sealants are mostly recommended for children because the earlier you get them the better. However, adults can benefit from having sealants placed too. The procedure is quick, easy, and minimally invasive.

When the procedure is completed, your dental healthcare provider will clean and dry your tooth. An acidic gel will be applied to the tooth to make the surface rough, which allows for a bond with the tooth and sealant material to form. The gel is rinsed off and the tooth is dried again. Once the tooth is dry, the sealant material is placed on the grooves of the tooth. A blue light is used to harden the sealant material.

Sealants have been shown to continuously protect 9 years after being placed. When placed properly, sealants reduce your chance of getting cavities by 80% for 2 years and by 50% for up to 4 years. However, I’ve personally seen sealants that are about 20 years old with no decay present. The longevity of your sealants can be influenced by your diet and dental hygiene practices.

Brushing and flossing your teeth at least two times daily are awesome preventive measures to stop tooth decay.  With the additional protection from sealants, you and your kids will always get kudos for being a member of the no cavity club.

Nothing in this post replaces the advice of your dental healthcare team.  Speak with your dentist to determine if sealants are the best fit for you!

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