What is a dental sealant?
A dental sealant, also called a pit and fissure sealant, is a thin, protective coating of white composite resin that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the teeth- usually back teeth (premolars and molars).
Dental sealants are a conservative and non-invasive treatment to prevent tooth decay.
The chewing surfaces of the teeth have multiple pits and fissures (grooves) which are most vulnerable to tooth decay because food and bacteria can stick in these grooves. When the adult molars first erupt (between the ages of 5-7 years) they are more susceptible to decay.
Young children are still developing their manual dexterity skills and since the molars are located far back in the mouth, most children find them hard to reach and therefore brush properly. For this reason, we always encourage parent participation in daily oral hygiene homecare routines.
The dental sealant seals the pit and fissures of the chewing surfaces of the teeth to prevent plaque and bacteria from collecting. The sealant acts as a shield over the enamel of each tooth.
Dental sealants protect the deep pits and fissures of a tooth but will not prevent cavities from forming between the teeth.
When are dental sealants recommended?
Indications for sealants include:
- History of dental caries
- Deep pits and grooves
- Poor oral hygiene homecare
- Certain enamel defects
Sealants are not exclusively reserved for children. They can also be recommended for adults who may be at risk for tooth decay or falling teeth.
How are dental sealants applied?
The need for applying a sealant will be determined by the dentist’s examination of your teeth and x-rays, if deemed necessary. A few simple steps are required for the procedure:
- the teeth to be sealed are cleaned thoroughly;
- a solution in the form of gel is applied to ensure that the sealant adheres well to the teeth;
- your teeth are rinsed and dried;
- the sealant is applied to the grooves of the teeth that are treated;
- a special curing light is used to help harden the sealant.
Sealants are applied without anesthesia in only one appointment. The procedure is painless.
Sealants typically last between 5-10 years but it is imperative that they be monitored and maintained during regular care visits. We will therefore assess them every time you come for your routine cleaning and checkup to ensure that they are sealed properly and free of chips.