Why Use Sealants?
In spite of your best efforts to brush, floss, and rinse regularly, there will occasionally be fine grooves or pits in your tooth structure which are too small to be reached by a toothbrush. These areas can accumulate plaque no matter how often you brush. Of course, left unattended these grooves and pits can eventually develop cavities. Your dentist can apply a coating that seals the unseen and unreachable grooves and pits in your teeth. This creates a smooth surface which makes it difficult for bacteria to gain a foothold in your teeth. It makes it much easier for you to brush away the plaque with your toothbrush.
This sealant is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth that are difficult to reach. The sealant bonds thoroughly with the surface of your teeth and forms a protective shield to protect the enamel of your teeth. This process does not mean that a patient can stop brushing his teeth. It is simply an aid to make brushing more effective in difficult-to-reach areas.
Who Needs Sealants?
Children are primary candidates to receive sealants on their teeth. It can be very helpful for long-term dental health for a child to get sealant on his permanent molars and premolars during the cavity-prone years of six to fourteen years old. Sealants may also be appropriate baby teeth which have grooves and pits. Baby teeth play a major role in holding the spacing for future permanent teeth, so it is vital to take steps to keep these teeth healthy. This will keep these teeth from being lost too early.
The application of sealants is a minor treatment and can be carried out fairly quickly. The tooth to be treated is thoroughly cleaned and dried. After applying an acid solution which roughs up the teeth for better bonding of the sealant to the tooth, the tooth is again rinsed and dried. Finally, the sealant is painted onto the enamel of the tooth for it to bond, seal, and harden. This process will typically protect a tooth for up to ten years.