If someone told you if you painted sealer on your home deck you could increase the deck life by 80%, would you do it? That’s basically the same mentality with dental sealants. Dental Sealants have been around for many years and quite honestly provide a service that is paramount to the longevity and avoidance of cavities.
What is a dental sealant?
First maybe we should explain the anatomy of the tooth. As you may have noticed when looking at your teeth in a mirror, you can see grooves throughout your tooth. These fissures or grooves allow for us to break down food more efficiently. Because these grooves and fissures are so profound, it is easy to get microscopic portions of food trapped in these grooves, and if not brushed out on a daily basis, the acid produced from carbohydrates sits in these grooves and eventually eats away at the enamel thus causing decay.
So, why a sealant?
Here’s why and what a sealant is and does: A sealant is a liquid clear plastic filling material similar to a composite (tooth colored filling). When cured with a high intensity UV light, the material hardens in the grooves. There are a couple basic steps that are involved when placing a sealant. The tooth must be cleaned with a pumice material, then washed off, and then an acid etch is placed for 20 seconds to assist with drying and cleaning the tooth even further and prepares for the bonding stage of the procedure. Bonding material is lightly placed on the tooth and then light cured. After curing, the sealant material is placed in the grooves and also light cured until hard. This thin layer of composite will help your teeth from getting decay. However, this doesn’t mean you will not brush your teeth anymore, because brushing is still preventive measure that needs be taken so sugars do not sit on the areas of your teeth the sealants do not cover. Keep in mind as well, sealants do not last forever! We’ve seen some sealants last up to 5 years but the real number is between 1-5 years given there is no preparation to the tooth to mechanically retain a sealant, other than the bonding process.
Honestly, everyone can benefit from sealants; they are not limited to children but adults also have sealants placed. If you have teeth that have never had any fillings, even as an adult it could be beneficial to have sealants. Any extra protection helps! Even though Sealants can last up to 5 years there is no guarantee with wear and tear over time how long sealants can effectively last, but even if they lasted just a couple of years, that is two years of effective protection and cavity fighting power!