Sealants – your safety net from cavitiesSunday, September 26, 2021
BRUSHING and flossing are the best ways to help prevent cavities, but it's not always easy to clean every nook and cranny of your teeth, especially those back teeth you use to chew (molars).
Molars are rough, uneven and a favourite place for leftover food and cavity-causing bacteria to hide. Still, there's another safety net to help keep those teeth clean. It's called a sealant, and it is a thin, protective coating (made from plastic or other dental materials) that adheres to the chewing surface of your back teeth. They're no substitute for brushing and flossing, but they can keep cavities from forming and may even stop early stages of decay from becoming a full-blown cavity.
In fact, sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80 per cent in molars. This is especially important when it comes to your child's dental health.
How do sealants work?
Think of them as raincoats for your teeth. When the cavity-causing bacteria that live in everyone's mouth meet leftover food particles, they produce acids that can create holes in teeth. These holes are cavities. After the sealant has been applied it keeps those bits of food out and stops bacteria and acid from settling on your teeth — just like a raincoat keeps you clean and dry during a storm.
Who can get sealants?
Children and adults can benefit from sealants but the earlier you get them, the better. Your first molars appear around age 6, and second molars break through around age 12. Sealing these teeth as soon as they come through can keep them cavity-free from the start, which helps save time and money in the long run. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist if sealants are a good option for you and your family.
How are sealants applied?
It's a quick and painless procedure. Your dentist or dental hygienist will clean and dry your tooth before placing an acidic gel on your teeth. This gel roughs up your tooth surface so a strong bond will form between your tooth and the sealant. After a few seconds, your dentist will rinse off the gel and dry your tooth once again before applying the sealant onto the grooves of your tooth. Your dentist will then use a special blue light to harden the sealant.
Can sealants be placed over cavities?
Sealants can be used over areas of early decay to prevent further damage to your tooth. Because some sealants are clear, your dentist can keep an eye on the tooth to make sure the sealant is doing its job.
Are there any side effects?
With the exception of an allergy that may exist, there are no known side effects from sealants.
How long do sealants last?
Sealants will often last for several years – anywhere between five to ten years – before they need to be reapplied. However, they may wear or chip over the years. During your regular dental visit, your dentist or dental hygienist will check the condition of the sealant and can reapply them as needed.
What can you expect after the procedure?
Sealants are typically clear, white, or slightly tinted in colour and usually are not visible when you child talks or smiles. Your bite may feel slightly different after placement of sealants based on the material used, and that is normal. The bite will adjust after a few days. It is okay to eat and drink immediately after sealant placement and there are no special precautions.
Dr Sharon Robinson, DDS has offices at Dental Place Cosmetix Spa, located at shop #5, Winchester Business Centre, 15 Hope Road, Kingston 10. Dr Robinson is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Technology, Jamaica, School of Oral Health Sciences. She may be contacted at 876-630-4710. Like their Facebook page, Dental Place Cosmetix Spa.