What are Sealants?
Sealants are thin tooth colored filling material placed in the grooves of teeth before they have decayed. In many cases the grooves in the surfaces of the teeth are deep enough that plaque bacteria can fill the groove and start decay. The grooves are often thin enough that a tooth brush bristle cannot fit into it for cleaning. This allows the decay to form without any interference. Once the decay has gone through the enamel it spreads and forms a cavity. The beauty of a sealant is these grooves can be cleaned out (without novacaine) and restored preventing the cavity from penetrating the enamel.
Why would I need a sealant?
When teeth form in our jaws there are many factors at work, including nutrition and calcium and fluoride intake (there may even be a genetic factor). Most people’s teeth have grooves on the biting surfaces to varying degrees. If these grooves are deep enough for plaque to accumulate, a cavity will start forming (if the plaque can not be easily removed). A sealant fills this space and helps prevent the decay from forming
Benefits of sealants:
Sealants help prevent tooth decay by making the tooth surfaces more easy to clean. No plaque, no decay, no filling needed.
What is involved in the sealant procedure?
The sealant procedure while simple is quite technique sensitive. The grooves to be sealed are isolated and cleaned. This sometimes requires some tooth removal but not enough to require “novacaine”. The tooth is then treated with a mild acid to make it “receptive” to the sealant material. Next a bonding agent is place and bonded to the tooth enamel. Next the sealant material (a runny tooth colored filling material) is place on the tooth and hardened. The bite is checked and adjusted and that’s it.
Just like fillings, sealant do not last forever, so, teeth can and should be checked at routine cleanings to determine if sealants are indicated or if they require replacement. Prevention is always better than a cure.
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