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The Benefit of Dental Sealants

We only get one set of adult teeth so it’s vital to keep them as healthy as possible for as long as we can. Brushing and flossing multiple times a day after meals are the first steps to sparkling oral health, but those tasks aren’t always practical, nor are they guaranteed to prevent oral decay.

We lead busy lives that often result in forgetting about our important dental responsibilities, or, in the case of our children, getting them to learn how to brush their teeth properly is often very hard or impossible. There are also medical conditions and medications that can play a role in the acceleration of tooth decay. Additionally, the bristles on toothbrushes can only penetrate certain areas of your teeth, often missing the bacteria, food remnants, and plaque in the tooth grooves which can result in cavities over time.

This is where dental sealant plays a key role in maintaining the health of your teeth, by acting as a barrier between your tooth enamel and eroding bacteria, preventing decay from developing in these vulnerable areas. It’s not a replacement to brushing or flossing by any means, but it can help significantly to prevent and delay the onset of tooth decay or cavities in children and adults.

You might be wondering what dental sealant is and how it’s applied to the teeth, and those are some good questions. The sealant is a liquid that’s applied into the grooves on the top portion of your tooth and then cured under a special light, resulting in a plastic-like coating that lasts for several years. It is commonly applied to premolars and molars, which are the teeth where decay occurs the most since these teeth are toward the back of our mouth and are used primarily for chewing food.

Although having dental sealant applied is painless and quick, for many folks it helps to understand the exact process before having it done to alleviate any fears or worries. Here’s the common process that most dentists follow when applying dental sealants:

Clean: The tooth’s surface is cleaned thoroughly and then rinsed and dried, just like a normal tooth cleaning.

Prime: A special material that works to lightly roughen the surface of the tooth is applied briefly for 10 – 15 seconds. This will help the sealant adhere to the tooth.

Rinse & Dry: After the tooth has been primed for 10 – 15 seconds, the dentist thoroughly rinses the tooth surface with water and then completely dries the tooth again so the sealant can adhere.

Seal & Cure: Once the surface of the tooth is fully dried, the sealant is applied to the tooth and a curing light is used for a few seconds to harden the sealant into a plastic-like coating.

Assess the bite: After the sealant is applied, the dentist will have you bite down several times to make sure that there is not a build-up of sealant interfering with your natural bite. If all is correct then the process is complete!

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, dental sealants cut down on cavities by 86% in the first year and 58% after four years, with these statistics extending respectively to adults as well. In almost every case, applying dental sealants as early as possible will cost less than pursuing time-consuming and painful corrective treatment later on for cavities or decayed teeth.

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…Treat Others As You Would Have Them Treat You … Matthew 7:12