What is a Dental Sealant?

What is a Dental Sealant?

What is a Dental Sealant?
What is a Dental Sealant?
Dr. Eddie Choi, EverSmile Dentistry in Sterling, Virginia

One way dentists can help keep teeth healthy, especially in their younger patients, is to apply a dental sealant.

A dental sealant is a thin and protective coating that the dentists adheres to the tops—chewing surfaces—of the back, or molar, teeth. When applied, it flows onto the surface of the tooth, filling in the deep grooves. It is quick, easy and painless, and can protect against 80% of cavities for up to 2 years, and up to 50% of cavities for up to 4 years, states a report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Why Should You Consider a Dental Sealant for your Child?

Because the surface of molars is rough and consists of ridges and valleys, it is easy for food to become captured, especially if teeth are not brushed correctly or often enough. When food remains on the tooth surface, cavity-causing bacteria begins to multiply in the crevasses.

The CDC reported in a 2016 study that “school-age children (ages 6-11) without sealants have almost 3 times more first-molar cavities than those with sealants.”

Claims are that dental sealants “prevent 80% of cavities in the back teeth, where 9 in 10 cavities occur,” yet only about 40% of children ages 6-11 get dental sealants. “Children from low-income families are 20% less likely to get dental sealants than children from higher-income families.”

“Untreated cavities can cause pain, infection, and problems eating, speaking and learning,” the CDC report continues. Using a sealant can both prevent cavities and eliminate the need for expensive treatments like fillings and crowns.

Who Should Get a Dental Sealant?

Both children and adults can benefit from dental sealants, but their impact is most seen in younger children. Around age six is when the first molars begin to appear, and parents can seal the teeth from the start.

“Although thorough brushing and flossing can remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, they cannot always get into all the nooks and crannies of the back teeth to remove the food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas from tooth decay by ‘sealing out’ plaque and food,” states WebMD. Sealants are recommended for children between the ages of 6 and 14.

How is a Dental Sealant Applied?

The dentist must prepare the tooth to create a solid seal. First, the tooth is dried. Then an acid solution is applied to roughen the surface to help the sealant bond to the tooth. Teeth are rinsed and dried.

The dental sealant itself is a gel that is brushed onto the surface of the molar by the dentist, filling in the deep grooves. That gel is hardened, or cured, using a special blue light. There is no wait time; the results are instantaneous. Once the dental sealant is hard, patients can eat immediately thereafter.

Your dentist will check your dental sealant during regular visits to look for cracks, chips or wear, as well as check your overall dental health.

Contact EverSmile Dentistry

At EverSmile Dentistry, our goal is to keep your teeth healthy in order to avoid costly and invasive repairs like fillings and crowns. Ask us whether dental sealants are right for you, and check out our full range of dental treatments for children, adults and seniors. We are a family dentist located in Sterling, Virginia to serve all of Northern Virginia.

Contact EverSmile Dentistry today to set your appointment.

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