A dental sealant is a highly effective method for preventing a tooth from getting that first cavity in the deeper grooves and pits of your teeth. While this is primarily done for children’s teeth as they are developing, it is also effective for adults who wish to lower their risk for getting cavities.
Which teeth typically get sealants?
While the most common teeth for sealants are the first and second molars as they erupt on children between ages 6-12, the smaller premolars (also called “bicuspids”) have deep grooves that can get also decay. So, more and more adult patients are sealing all the back teeth to prevent bacteria from getting access those deep pits and fissures.
What is the procedure for applying sealants?
First, we clean off the tooth. Sometimes this is done with a small polishing cup and some light pumice, or we might use a gentle air abrasion to clear out the plaque or debris in the grooves of the tooth. Once the tooth is dried, we apply an etchant to clean it even more and open the pores into the tooth. This is then rinsed off and a thin resin liquid is applied onto the tooth. This material is “light-cured” and it hardens the material. The last step is to check the bite to make sure the material is only in the grooves. The entire procedure is painless and gentle.
This new barrier on your teeth will help block acids from going into the most common areas that we see decay happening in. One other area that we sometimes place sealants in is the backside of the front upper centrals, because they occasionally have deeper grooves that also trap plaque. The teeth will have a smoother finish to them initially, but after a week or two, (usually sooner) you will never even notice this smooth surface.
Some patients have asked us if this is so effective, why not apply it to ALL the teeth? As it turns out, it’s impossible to apply into the spaces in-between the teeth because the gums are there and its typically very moist or the gums will not allow us to properly bond. Dental sealants are not a substitute for brushing and flossing and it’s still very important for you to maintain you regular check-ups to make sure they are intact.
How long do sealants last?
A sealant can last anywhere from 4-10 years depending upon the location, the depth of the grooves and the wear from the opposing teeth. In addition, your home diet, if it consists of hard crunchy foods and acidic drinks, may not allow the sealant to stay on for the longer range of that time frame. While they may not be considered a “permanent” restoration, they certainly can help tremendously in preventing that “first cavity” and keeping your mouth problem-free.
How much do sealants cost?
The typical price runs about one-third or less than the typical price of a cavity filling in your area. The nice thing is that they can be replaced easily and comfortably a few times and require basically no shots or drilling. When you consider the benefits it provides, a dental sealant is one of the most affordable procedures with the biggest return on investment for dental patients!
If you are interested in learning more about how to maintain your teeth cavity-free and eliminate the most likely areas for cavities to start, consider giving Dr. Avi Israeli in Wall Township, NJ a call for more information!