Dental sealants are coatings of plastic that are applied to the occlusal (chewing) surface of the permanent back teeth (the premolars and molars), to help prevent the occurrence of tooth decay. The chewing surfaces of our back teeth are rough and contain fissures and grooves that can house bacteria and food debris. Plaque tends to accumulate here, and the acid produced as a result can cause cavities. When used in combination with other preventive care options such as fluoride application, dental sealants can help protect the surfaces of the teeth by smoothing out the pits and grooves.
In children, the first sealant is usually placed in the fissures of the first permanent back tooth that has erupted completely above the gum. Apart from the wisdom teeth, which erupt much later in life, the premolars and molars continue to come in until 11 to 13 years of age, and the chewing surfaces of these teeth can be sealed as they erupt. Sealants have found to be an equally effective form of preventive care for adults.
The placement of sealants is a simple and quick process that can be completed in a single visit. First, the tooth is prepared and polished by removing plaque and food debris from the grooves and fissures. Then, it is isolated and dried. The tooth surface is etched with a dental etching gel to help the sealant bond to it properly. The etching material is then rinsed off, and the tooth is dried again before placing the sealant material onto the tooth using a brush. A curing light is used to help the coating dry. Finally, the tooth is examined to ensure that your bite is proper and that all the grooves have been sealed out.
For more information about sealants can protect your teeth, please call our office at (770) 824-4825.