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Do Dental Sealants Really Help Prevent Tooth Decay? Let’s Find Out

July 22nd, 2008 · 1 Comment · Dental Sealants, Tooth Decay

Dental Sealants are becoming more and more popular and for good reason, they actually work.

Most of the general public don’t really understand how dental sealants work or if they work.  So I thought I would answer some of the most common questions asked about sealants and hopefully clear up any misunderstandings about dental sealants.  So let’s get started:

How does a sealant help prevent tooth decay?

A sealant is a white or transparent plastic coating that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth—1st and 2nd molars and premolars as they erupt. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures to be more technical) of the chewing surfaces of back molars. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids.

Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, but the bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to remove food and plaque. The purpose of the sealant is to cover the deep grooves in the middle of the tooth so food particles and bacteria will not accumulate and start tooth decay.

Is applying the sealant a complicated procedure?

Sealants are an easy process and it only takes your dentist a few minutes to apply each sealant. The teeth that will be sealed are thoroughly cleaned and dried. Then the chewing surfaces are roughened slightly with an acidy type solution to help the sealant adhere to the tooth. The sealant is then applied to the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Usually a UV curing light is used to help the sealant harden.

As long as the sealant remains intact and isn’t broken or lost, the tooth will be protected from tooth decay.  Sealants are very strong and have no problem holding up with normal chewing and should last you several years before reapplying is needed.   During your normal dental visits, your dentist will check the condition of the sealant to make sure they are still intact with the tooth and have no cracks.

Can adults get sealants or are they just for kids?

Normally the likelihood of developing any type of pit and fissure decay begins early in life, so children and teenagers are usually the prime candidate. But adults can benefit from sealants as well.

There are key ingredients in preventing tooth decay and maintaining a healthy mouth.  They are:

  • Brushing twice daily with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste;
  • Flossing your teeth daily;
  • Eating a balanced diet and limiting snacks;
  • And visiting your dentist regularly, usually every six months minimum unless otherwise stated by your dentist.

Call your dentist today and find out if Sealants are right for you or your kids.  For those of you living in the Sacramento California area, give the Charles Dental Group a call and we’ll be happy to help you.

I hope this brief article has answered any questions you had about dental sealants.  For more information on tooth decay and simple methods of controlling it, read Six Methods of Controlling Tooth Decay.

– Andrea Hersh, DDS
Healthy Kids
Cool Kids & Family Dentistry
Todays Dental Recommendation – My recommendation for today is easy…get your kids Dental Sealants!


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