What is a dental sealant?
A dental sealant is a special, plastic coating that is applied to the tooth to protect it from decay. When teeth are treated with sealants, they are less likely to get cavities. Sealants can be applied quickly and painlessly. This is one of the main reasons your pediatric dentist recommends sealants for your child.
What causes tooth decay?
Teeth are covered with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. This bacteria changes sugar into harmful acids that attack the hard layer on teeth called enamel. Over time, these attacks may break down the enamel and cause tooth decay, or cavities.
Tooth decay often occurs on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. These surfaces have pits and grooves that trap plaque and bits of food. The pits and grooves are hard to keep clean because bristles cannot reach into them. That is how decay starts in the pits and grooves and a cavity forms.
Even a toothbrush
bristle is too big to
to reach inside a groove
in the tooth (magnified).
How do sealants work?
A dental sealant is a plastic material applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. The resin flows into the pits and grooves in the teeth. The sealants form a barrier, protecting enamel by sealing out food and plaque.
How are sealants applied?
It takes only a few minutes to seal each tooth. The chewing surfaces are cleaned to make it easier for the sealant to stick to the tooth. Then the sealant is applied to the chewing surface, where it sticks or bonds to the tooth and hardens. A special light may be used to help the sealant harden.
Before and after
a tooth sealant.
How long do sealants last?
Sealants may last several years before they need to be replaced. Over time, sealants can become loose or worn. Then they will not protect the teeth as well. During regular dental visits, your pediatric dentist will check the sealants and reapply them as needed.
How else can I protect teeth from decay?
Sealants protect ONLY the chewing surfaces of teeth. Decay can still form between the teeth. To prevent decay, take good care of the teeth at home. It is also important to have regular exams and cleanings with your pediatric dentist.
To help keep your mouth healthy, be sure to floss and brush twice a day. Ask your pediatric dentist about using fluoride mouth rinse to prevent cavities.
Who should get sealants?
Sealants are primarily used for children and teenagers. Prevention is always better than treatment. Sealants are very useful in stopping tooth decay on the back teeth and can save you money over time. Your pediatric dentist can make sealants part of your plan for a healthy mouth.
Come by today and visit the best pediatric dentist in all of San Antonio! We look forward to seeing you at World Pediatric Dental
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