Even if you brush and floss diligently, there are still areas of your teeth that are vulnerable to decay. One of the more exposed spots is the top of your molar (chewing) teeth at the back of your mouth. These have a broad top surface; however, that surface is not perfectly flat or smooth and may have small grooves or indentations that are difficult to keep clean. That makes them an ideal location for decay to develop if you don’t take action to give them further protection. This can be addressed by using a dental sealant to cover the area and provide protection in addition to that afforded by your daily dental hygiene routine. You can think of dental sealants as being very much like the wax coat that is applied to your car. That helps protect the underlying paint finish from damage, just like your dental sealant will help protect your tooth’s enamel.
What exactly is a dental sealant?
A dental sealant is a clear or tooth-colored plastic resin that evens out the surfaces of teeth and prevents decay from taking hold in grooves and depressions by providing a tough protective layer. Because they smooth out the surface, it becomes easier to keep clean, meaning the tooth is less likely to decay once sealed in this way. Sealants can last for many years if applied correctly, due to the resilient nature of the resin involved.
What does getting a sealant involve?
First, the tooth or teeth that will be sealed are thoroughly cleaned by your hygienist to ensure they are free of debris, and the surface is dry. Then the surface of the tooth may be roughened to give it some texture to allow the sealant to bond to it strongly. The sealant is then painted onto the surface in a liquid form that will fill the grooves and indentations in the top surface of the tooth and cover the surrounding area as well. The resin soon hardens to a final finish that protects the tooth. It only takes a few minutes to seal a tooth, so, even if you have a number that is to be sealed, you will still be in and out in no time.
Does it hurt?
Since this involves simply painting a sealant onto your tooth enamel, and the enamel of your teeth doesn’t contain any nerves, it is a painless procedure that can be performed without the need for any local anesthetic. The only discomfort should be that associated with having to keep your mouth open and the usual discomfort you may experience when having your teeth professionally cleaned. The fact that getting a sealant is so painless is especially fortunate as children can benefit greatly from getting their teeth sealed at a young age.
Who can get sealants?
Anyone can get their teeth sealed as an additional means to protect their teeth beyond their daily brushing and flossing routine and regular trips to the dentist. Sealants are especially useful for protecting children’s back teeth, and are proven to help prevent cavities.
You care for your teeth the same way after getting sealants as you did before. Your sealants should last a long time, but they are susceptible to wear and tear over time, so your dentist will check them to see how they are holding up. Sealants will break down eventually as they are typically used in areas that are used for chewing and grinding up food. Even the toughest sealant will not be able to withstand that indefinitely.
How long do they last?
Sealants can last for many years, and can always be reapplied should the original coating start to fail. Your dentist can check the status of your sealed teeth during your regular checkups to see if the process needs to be repeated.
Are sealants safe?
Sealants are very safe; though, as with any substance introduced into the mouth, there is a small possibility that you may be allergic. Though the resins used may contain a very small amount of BPA, which is a concern for some, the exposure is insignificant compared to other sources that are routinely encountered.
If you have a dental plan, you can check with them whether or not they cover the cost of sealants in part or in whole. The extent of coverage for sealants can vary widely from plan to plan, depending on the number of preventative measures they cover. Even if not covered, getting dental sealants can pay for itself in terms of cavities that do not develop down the road as a result. If you want to learn more about getting sealants or schedule an appointment to get a vulnerable tooth sealed to help prevent tooth decay, contact Ingenious Dentistry in Houston today.