Have dental sealants recently been recommended to you or your child? Have you always wondered what dental sealants are, and how they are beneficial to teeth? Falmouth Dental Arts wants to answer all of your tooth-related questions so that you can feel confident and informed when you visit our office! Dr. Karagiorgos took some time to answer basic questions about dental sealants and explain the sealant process.
1. What are sealants?
Dr. Karagiorgos: Sealants are a dental material which fills in deep grooves in a tooth’s surface to minimize the opportunity for cavities to develop.
2. Why should patients consider getting sealants?
Dr. Karagiorgos: The surfaces of the teeth toward the backs of our mouths have special surfaces with lots of small grooves, called pits and fissures. Pits and fissures help us grip food while we break it down when we chew. The size and depth of pits and fissures are different for everybody. However, deeper grooves often trap food particles and can promote the presence of bacterial film. This puts people with deep grooves at particular risk for cavities.
As part of a comprehensive oral health approach, filling these deeper surfaces with a dental material such as sealants can help prevent cavities.
3. At what age do patients need sealants?
Dr. Karagiorgos: Because the likelihood of developing decay is highest for newly-erupted premolars and molars, children and teenagers are the ideal candidates for sealants. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars would also benefit from sealants.
While some children would benefit from sealants on their baby teeth, parents should seriously consider sealants for children on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. This typically starts around age six. The sooner the sealants can be applied to teeth, the sooner they can start protecting cavity-prone molars.
4. What is the process of applying sealants?
Dr. Karagiorgos: Applying sealants is a simple and painless process. It takes only a few minutes for the dentist or hygienist to seal each tooth. Here are the five steps:
- First, the teeth are thoroughly cleaned.
- After cleaning, each tooth is dried, and cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry.
- The dentist or hygienist will put a gel on the chewing surface of the teeth which will roughen up the tooth’s enamel, helping the sealant bond to the teeth.
- The teeth are rinsed and dried.
- The dentist or hygienist paints the sealant onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden faster.
5. Does it hurt to get sealants?
Dr. Karagiorgos: No, not at all. Because all of the work is above the gum-line on the chewing surface of the teeth, patients don’t need to be numbed. This makes the sealant process fast, easy, and pain-free.
6. Is it fun to apply sealants?
Dr. Karagiorgos: Here at Falmouth Dental Arts, we promote great oral health habits for patients of all ages. Our goal is to make coming to the dentist feel like you’re visiting a friend, while having a little dentistry done on the side! From routine check-ups to sealant application, we love our jobs and hope that our patients feel cared for when they’re here. We look forward to making your visit to the dentist as easy, painless, convenient–and of course as fun–as it can be. If you have any questions, or to schedule your appointment, please call our office at 207.781.5900
Images courtesy of Children’s Dental Funzone