Everyone wants to enjoy the benefits of healthy teeth and an attractive smile. However, dental decay is one of the biggest threats to both our oral health and the appearance of our smile.
Decay occurs when bacteria that is naturally present in our mouths interacts with the sugars in the foods and drinks we consume and produces acids. These acids are capable of eroding enamel and causing holes to develop, and that expose the sensitive, inner layers of our teeth. When bacteria reach these, it can cause tremendous pain and infection, and without the proper treatment, the root of the tooth can become infected and die, leading to tooth loss.
Most people know that twice daily brushing and daily flossing is the very best way to help prevent the development of tooth decay. However, this doesn’t mean that it is always easy to reach every corner and crevice of your teeth, particularly those at the back of the mouth in the molars and pre-molars.
Molars and pre-molars are designed primarily to enable us to chew our food. They have a rough, uneven surface that has pits, grooves and fissures to help us grind up our food so that it is small enough to swallow. Unfortunately, these nooks and crannies are very difficult to clean properly and are one of the most common areas for decay to develop.
Dental sealants, which are sometimes referred to as pit and fissure sealants, are a preventative dental treatment that is designed to help the patient avoid tooth decay. Sealants are a thin, protective coating that is applied over the top of the molars and pre-molars. It molds perfectly to the pits, grooves and fissures of these teeth, preventing bacteria and food particles from entering them.
It is important to note that sealants don’t and shouldn’t replace proper brushing and flossing. They simply provide an additional layer of protection that can reduce the risk of decay. In fact, some studies have shown that the likelihood of decay developing can be reduced by as much as 80% using sealants.
Sealants are most commonly associated with school-aged children and many parents opt to get their child’s molars and pre-molars protected as soon as their permanent teeth come through. Also, the earlier you get sealants, the longer you can benefit from their protection.
However, there is no age limit on getting dental sealants and anyone can benefit from having sealants placed at any stage of their life.
The process to apply dental sealants is both fast and painless. Firstly, your teeth will be thoroughly cleaned to ensure that they are smooth and free from plaque. Once they have been dried, we will place a special acidic gel onto them. Although you can’t see it, the gel actually causes the surface of the tooth to become rough, creating a stronger bond with the sealant. The sealant is then brushed on and hardened using a special light. This completes the process.
Exactly how long sealants will last can vary between patients and we will monitor them for you so that we can advise you when they should be replaced. Typically, sealants will last for around five years before they will need to be re-applied.
If you would like to find out more about dental sealants, or if you would like to take advantage of this protective treatment, please get in touch with our experienced dental team at our dental offices in Castro Valley, CA.