While brushing and flossing helps remove food particles and plaque from the smooth surfaces of teeth, toothbrushes can't reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract all food and plaque. This is where dental sealants come in.
What are dental sealants and why are they needed?
“Sealants are plastic coating designed to protect the permanent premolars and molars,” Dr. Esguerra explained. “When they are applied to the chewing surfaces of those teeth, it keeps the plaque and acid from destroying the enamel.”
The doctor also noted that the grooves on the premolars and molars are what help us to grind food, so when certain food particles can collect in those grooves and pits overnight, they can result in tooth decay. “Brushing and flossing on a regular basis removes some particles and bacteria, but not all,” she said. “Therefore, a sealant for teeth is sometimes necessary to protect those areas that brushing and flossing cannot reach.”
Dental sealants act as a preventive measure against tooth decay. They complement the fluoride's effect for those grooved areas of the back teeth.
How are sealants applied?
In terms of application, there are few dental procedures that are as easy, quick, and painless as having sealants placed. Dr. Esguerra explained the step-by-step process of having sealants applied: “The dentist will give your teeth a thorough cleaning first before applying sealant to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. After the sealant is applied, it bonds with the existing tooth enamel and with the use of a light curing machine the sealant will harden in place. The procedure can be performed in a single visit.” She also added that sealants reduce cavities and it lasts a long time.
Can sealants be avoided?
Dr. Esguerra said that dental sealants shouldn't become a necessity. To avoid it, be diligent in your oral care, using toothpaste with fluoride, eating healthy foods and limiting the convenient snacks. Schedule the dental checkups twice a year with your family dentist. They will help you guard and protect your teeth against cavities and other oral problems.
Dr. Joycelyn Esguerra - Orthodontics and TMJ Specialty