Dental Sealants

A dental sealant is a type of protective coating which is applied to the biting surfaces of your back teeth. These teeth are especially difficult to clean which means that they are more prone to tooth decay. Tooth decay causes small holes or cavities to form on the surface of a tooth. If these are not checked then they can erode the tooth to the extent that an extraction may be required.

Your back teeth have small cracks on their surface which food debris and bacteria can pass through. If these do get into your tooth then they start to attack this surface (the enamel) and gradually erode the tooth over a period of time.

So, the answer is to seal these tiny cracks with a type of ‘glue’ which will form a hard coating over the tooth. This will stop food particles and bacteria from entering your tooth.

It all depends on how deep these fissures are. If they are very shallow then a coating isn’t required but if they are quite deep then they will need to be sealed.

This is a quick and painless procedure which only takes a few minutes for each tooth. Your teeth will not feel any different after this procedure. This sealant lasts for quite a few years but it is always useful to get it checked as part of your twice yearly visit.

What is the dental sealant procedure?

The procedure is simple and is as follows:

  • Your dentist will clean your tooth first using a brush or a drill.
  • He or she will apply a special gel to your tooth which helps the sealant to bond to the tooth.
  • The sealant is then applied. This comes in a liquid plastic form and is painted onto your tooth. It is then allowed to harden by means of a ‘curing’ lamp. This lamp emits a powerful bright light which causes the sealant to ‘set’ and form a plastic coating.
  • Your dentist will ask you to ‘bite down’ (close your jaws) to check that this action is not affected. He/she can make any adjustments if needed.

Does this sealant last a long time?

Yes. It tends to last between 3 to 5 years although 10 years is not unknown. If it chips or breaks off then a further application will be needed.

Your dentist will examine this along with the rest of your teeth during your normal yearly check up. He or she can add another layer if need be.

A dental sealant fills in those fissures on the surface of your tooth and acts as a barrier to food debris and bacteria.

Can children have sealants?

Yes. Children as young as 7 can have a sealant as their permanent tooth are starting to come through. This is usually repeated when they reach 14 as they should have all of their permanent teeth.

Do I still have to brush my teeth?

Yes. It is vitally important that you still brush and floss your teeth. Dental sealants are a preventative measure but are designed to be a part of a dental hygiene routine. So continue to brush your teeth as normal.

Adults as well as children can benefit from a sealant. If you want to know more about this then talk to your dentist.

If you wish to know more about tooth decay or any other dental problems then visit our common dental problems section.

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