Even someone with a very vigilant dental hygiene routine can still be susceptible to cavities. Certain people are simply more prone to dental cavities due to the shape and structure of their teeth. If your dentist notices you or someone in your family is prone to advanced decay despite good oral hygiene, they may suggest using dental sealants to help keep the teeth healthy. Of course, concerns are normal: How long do sealants last? Will the application hurt? Here’s a little more about why dental sealants might be a great option for you.

What are dental sealants, and why would I need them?
Dental sealants are plastic coatings that are usually placed on the chewing surface of the molars and premolars to help protect them from decay. Sealants are designed to fill the deep grooves or your molars, which are uniquely susceptible to cavities because they’re known to trap food particles in these areas of the teeth. These fissures can be deep, difficult to clean, and can be narrower than even a single bristle of a toothbrush. Plaque accumulates in these areas, and the acid from bacteria in the plaque attacks the enamel and cavities can develop. Dentists don’t suggest sealants to all of their patients. Rather, they’re usually reserved for individuals who are especially prone to cavities, such as teens and young kids, including those whostill have baby teeth. Applying sealants before decay starts allows the sealant to block the area of bacteria and food particles from attaching to the surface of the teeth.

When are dental sealants placed?
The first dental sealant to be placed is usually on the fissure of the first permanent molar tooth, once the chewing surface of the tooth has erupted completely beyond the gum. This tooth grows in behind the baby teeth. If the chewing surfaces of these teeth are sealed, the dental sealant will help protect the tooth. Except for the wisdom teeth, which come through much later, the molars and premolars continue to erupt until eleven-thirteen years of age and the chewing surfaces of these teeth can be sealed after they have erupted beyond the gum.

Will They Hurt?

It’s understandable to be nervous about a dental procedure with which you have no prior experience but rest assured, dental sealants are virtually painless. The majority of them are made with liquid resin, which is then brushed onto the teeth so it can harden. The process only takes a few minutes, including application and drying. Once applied, the resin dries into a hard, plastic-like material in just a few second. The material is invisible and won’t feel any different than the surfaces of your natural teeth.

Are Dental Sealants Placed on other Teeth?
Dental sealants are usually placed on the chewing surfaces of molars and premolars because these are the areas and teeth that typically have deep fissures. They are sometimes also used on other permanent teeth if they have grooves or pits, to help protect these surfaces. In some children, the molars in the baby teeth also have grooves that could benefit from dental sealants and in this situation your dentist or hygienist may recommend dental sealants on the chewing surfaces of these primary teeth.

How Long Do Sealants Last?

Once your sealants have been applied, they can last up to 10 years with proper care. You won’t have to have them removed; instead, sealants gradually wear away over time, allowing you to receive new sealants as needed. Nonetheless, their hardened plastic material holds up remarkably well as long as you avoid behavior that puts undue stress on your teeth, like using your teeth to open tough food packaging. Once your sealants have been applied, your dentist will check on them each time you come in for a cleaning. Reapplication may be administered if your sealants seem to be wearing faster than they should, just to make sure your teeth are protected.

If you have any questions about sealants, call Winning Smiles to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-332-2444.

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