Cavities are sneaky little devils. They form when food particles and plaque make their way into the pits and grooves of a tooth. But lo and behold, there is a way to help ward off these creepy cavities on our chewing surfaces: Sealants – a parent’s (and kid’s) best friend.
Sealants are essentially resin material that is gently flowed into the natural grooves on the chewing surfaces of our back permanent molars. They bond with the tooth and harden, providing a protective surface. They’re especially helpful because cavities can be sneaky – they like to form where we may have trouble brushing, into the deepest grooves of our farthest back teeth.
Sealing the Surface
Cavities tend to form in the pits and fissures of the teeth. These areas are often the most difficult to keep clean, even with the most thorough tooth-brushing.
Sealants were created to provide a shield for these areas. They are applied shortly after the permanent molars are erupted, typically around the ages of six and twelve.
The procedure is relatively fast and pain-free. We apply a sealant that flows into the grooves and pits – particularly the chewing surfaces of back molars. The sealant material is BPA-free, and we are always happy to provide our patients with a complete list of its ingredients. It is tooth colored to match your child’s teeth.
Here’s how we perform the procedure:
- We make sure the grooves and pits are clean and prepare the enamel for the bonding agent.
- We apply a bonding agent to the teeth.
- We apply the sealant material onto the grooves and pits of the tooth.
- That’s it! The entire procedure generally takes 15-30 minutes.
Your child’s bite may feel a little funny for a few days, as their mouth adjusts to the subtle difference. After a while, you won’t notice the sealants at all.
How Long Will they Last?
As noted by the American Dental Association, “As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be prevented from decay.” We make it a practice to check the sealants every six months to ensure there are no defects.
If we find any, it’s a simple fix to add in a little extra sealant. However, these are rare occasions, as a good sealant should last many years.
Do You Need to Keep Brushing?
People (especially my younger patients) will ask me if they get to stop brushing once they get the sealants. My answer: Absolutely Not!
Just because you have a sealant in place doesn’t mean that you can stop practicing good oral hygiene. You just have another ally in the war against cavities and tooth decay. By all means, continue to brush your teeth and floss.
Sealants have proven to be highly-effective in preventing dental decay. Paired with a regular routine of brushing and flossing (and a diet that doesn’t include a lot of sugar), they help act as a powerful shield against those creepy cavities.