Decay can lead to missing teeth, as you might know. However, decay can trigger a domino effect that includes a missing tooth, alignment problems, loose teeth, and gum diseases. You can see why avoiding decay is important and you may need more protection than brushing and flossing can bring.
What Are Dental Sealants?
Sealants are applied to the surfaces of your teeth located in the back (molars). Sealants are made of strong resins or plastic to provide a complete seal for your teeth. Cavities often begin in the hard-to-reach fissures and pits of teeth. Sealants fill in all those tiny spaces so that bacteria cannot enter and do damage. Tiny cavities can be stopped with the application of sealants as well, serving the same purpose as a filling.
Bacteria live on teeth surfaces all the time. Brushing, flossing, and regular professional cleaning can help but may not do the entire job. Bacteria, when left to thrive, invade the enamel (the white part) of the tooth and cause a hole. The hole gets larger and larger and then the root is affected. Soon, the gums can also be affected by the cavity and an abscess can form. Sealants block that process entirely so nothing gets through to your molars.
Who Needs Sealants?
Anyone who is vulnerable to decay will benefit from sealants. They are often recommended, however, for those just getting their adult teeth. Young teenagers may not always do a good job of cleaning their teeth. Sealants mean an additional layer of protection against cavities.
Some children may also be candidates for sealants. Infections in baby teeth can cause the child to have problems throughout their lives. Some childhood dental problems are linked to additional issues as an adult who may suffer from so-called soft teeth.
Adults will benefit from sealants as well. Those with problematic teeth can help prevent cavities caused by medication, medical conditions, dry mouth, and more by having sealants applied to the chewing surfaces of their teeth.
How Sealants Are Applied
Sealant applications are fast and pain-free. It can be done by either your dental hygienist or your dentist. Before using the sealant, though, your teeth must be very clean, so professional cleaning is part of the process. The sealant is applied to clean, dry teeth that have had an etching solution applied first. That solution makes the sealant adhere better to the tooth.
Once the sealant is dry; the process is over. To find out more about sealants, speak to your dentist.