Sealants and the Prevention of Tooth Decay

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Sealants and the Prevention of Tooth Decay

There is no question about it that brushing and flossing are the two best ways to keep your teeth in good condition and help to prevent tooth decay and cavity formation. But there are nooks and crannies in your teeth that even a brush and floss find it hard to clean, especially in the molars which are the back teeth that are used for chewing and breaking down food before swallowing. They are uneven and rough in places and are a favourite part of your mouth where food remains and damaging bacteria often hide and begin to form damaging and painful cavities.

Sealants are available to help fill the gap that a brush and floss can’t reach

Because of the ongoing problem of tooth decay in molars, sealants have been developed to help prevent this happening. A sealant is a wafer thin, protective coating which is made out of plastic or other types of dental materials. It sticks to the chewing surface of your molars and it has been found that it lowers the risk of tooth decay by almost 80 percent and especially in children.

How sealants work

Bacteria that are notorious for causing the development of cavities thrive on food remains left in the mouth and produces acids that create holes in your teeth. After the sealant’s applied it keeps the food out thus preventing the bacteria and acid from attaching itself to your teeth.

Who is suitable for sealants?

Both adults and children make good candidates for sealants and the sooner they are applied the better. The first molars start to emerge at about 6 years old, while the second develop at about 12 years old.  Sealing molars early helps to prevent cavities forming at an early age.

How the sealants are applied

It’s a pain free process and your dentist will first dry and clean the teeth and then paint on an acidic gel which makes your teeth rough. This is so a strong bond forms between the teeth and the sealant. Your dentist will, after a few seconds, rinse the gel off your teeth and dry your teeth again before the sealant is applied to the grooves in your teeth.

Your dentist will use a specially designed blue light which will harden the sealant. You can expect the sealants to be durable enough to last out several years. Your dentist will notice any deterioration and can re-apply if and when it’s necessary. Sealants can also be used in areas where early decay is present so that further damage to the affected teeth is prevented.  As some sealants are clear, it makes it easy for your dentist to keep a close eye on the treated tooth to ensure the sealant is working.

Sealants are becoming a more effective and common way of tooth decay prevention and are offered by almost all dentists these days. You shouldn’t hesitate to ask your dentist about this treatment option when you go for your twice annual check-up.

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