What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are a preventive, non-invasive dental procedure that helps prevent cavities! The sealant is a tough plastic material that is designed to bond with the tooth’s enamel and forms a shield against decay. Sealants are tooth colored or white so they are barely visible.
When children are around 6 years old they will start to get their first adult molars all the way in the back of their mouth. This makes it very difficult to keep these precious adult teeth clean. Liquid dental sealants are painted on the teeth to fill in all of the hard-to-reach crevices so food particles can't get in and start a cavity. Sealants can protect teeth from cavity-causing bacteria for many years!
What are pits and fissures?
Pits and fissures are the most cavity-prone areas, accounting for over 50 percent of cavities among children. The deep grooves on the top of the tooth are called fissures and the point where these grooves cross each other are called pits. Pits and fissures are a normal part of our tooth’s anatomy and come in different shapes and sizes. These deep areas are often the perfect environment to harbor and trap food and plaque. Often times, toothbrush bristles are too wide to clean these tiny areas. As the food and bacteria collect and build up, the development of a cavity is likely. The enamel is often times weaker and thinner in the pits and fissures, which increases the chance of a cavity. Once decay has formed and a cavity is detected, your dentist in Elmhurst, IL must repair it and a dental sealant can no longer be placed.
When should sealants be applied?
Your dentist at Radianté Dental & Facial Spa must carefully examine the tooth before a dental sealant is applied. Sealants are usually applied to newly erupted permanent posterior teeth and occasionally primary or “baby” teeth. Since dental caries are the most common chronic disease of children, sealants are applied to a child’s tooth as soon as possible before a cavity can develop.
How is a dental sealant applied?
Applying dental sealants is an easy, yet tedious procedure. Children often benefit from being told how the sealants will be “painted” on their tooth and protects them from plaque and cavities. They often better understand the process and are more prepared to listen carefully to the instructions of the dental professionals if they are informed.
First, the teeth are thoroughly cleaned and then isolated by placing a barrier of some type so the other teeth and tongue cannot come into contact with the sealant. A thick liquid called etch is applied to the surface of the tooth where the sealant will be placed. Etching is a process that helps the sealant bond more effectively to the tooth. After etching, the teeth are rinsed and dried. Often times, a primer is applied as a liquid, which allows for better adhesion. When the tooth is completely dry, a sealant is applied to the tooth with a tiny brush or syringe-like applicator. The sealant flows deep into the pits and fissures. The sealant may harden with air exposure or by exposure to ultraviolet light.
How long do sealants last?
Sealants are typically long lasting, but need to be evaluated by your dentist in Elmhurst, IL. The sealant can remain on the tooth for many years if proper care is taken. Some hard foods, such as hard candy, chewing ice, or sticky foods, such as taffy, may dislodge a sealant and should be avoided. If the sealant becomes dislodged, your dental professional will make sure the tooth is cavity free and re-apply the sealant.
How effective are sealants?
Sealants are effective in preventing cavities on the chewing surface of a tooth as long as they are intact. Keeping all of your maintenance appointments with your dentist in Elmhurst, IL can ensure the longevity of the dental sealants. Remember, cavities commonly occur on other surfaces of the tooth as well, that aren't covered by a sealant, such as in between the teeth! Proper brushing and flossing is imperative to protect the entire tooth from bacteria and cavities.
Does insurance cover the cost of sealants?
Many insurance companies cover the cost of dental sealants. Check with your dental insurance carrier to determine if you have dental sealant coverage.