What are Sealants? Sealants
are thin, tooth coloured, plastic coatings applied on
the chewing surfaces of the back teeth so as to prevent
the formation of caries.
How do Sealants work?
The chewing surfaces of the back teeth (molars and
premolars) are usually made up of deep pits and grooves
or fissures. Although brushing and flossing helps remove
food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth,
pits and fissures are extremely difficult to clean.
Toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the
depressions and grooves and the normal flow of saliva,
which helps clean food particles from other areas of
the mouth, cannot "wash out" pits and fissures.
This makes them specially prone to decay. In fact, most
cavities form in pit and fissure areas. The permanent
molars are extremely susceptible to this form of decay.
Sealants protect these vulnerable areas
by "sealing out" plaque and food. They create
a smooth surface which prevents the food material from
getting into these crevices and facilitates easy cleaning.
This decreases the risk of caries.
How are Sealants done?
The entire process of sealing the teeth is very
simple and is done in one visit. The teeth are first
cleaned of all debris. The surfaces to be sealed are
etched to permit the bonding of the sealant to the tooth.
The sealant material is then painted into the pits and
fissures and allowed to harden.
When is the best time to get Sealants
They should be done when the permanent first molars
come in, usually at about the age of six.
How long do Sealants last?
Longevity of sealants greatly depends upon eating
habits. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal
chewing and usually last several years before a reapplication
is needed. Chewing ice, hard popcorn kernels and "sticky"
candies often results in less retention time of sealants.
As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface
will be protected from decay. During your regular dental
visits, your dentist will check the condition of the
sealants and reapply them when necessary.
Is Sealant application a complicated
Sealants are easy for your dentist to apply and
it takes only a few minutes to seal each tooth. There
is no pain and no drilling involved in this treatment.
Do Sealants have any other benefits
in addition to preventing decay?
Sealants can also stop very small areas of early
decay from becoming larger. Reliable clinical studies
have confirmed that properly placed sealants, if kept
intact, will stop decay in the enamel.
Are Sealants cost effective?
Prevention is better than treatment. Properly applied
and maintained sealants are extremely effective in preventing
pit and fissure decay and hence decrease the need for
treatment. This makes sealants very cost-effective,
saving you both money and discomfort.
Are Sealants only for kids?
The likelihood of developing pit and fissure decay
begins early in life, so children and teenagers are
obvious candidates, but adults can benefit from sealants
What factors could make an adult
a candidate for Sealants?
The best way to determine the need for sealants
is to evaluate the person's risk for pit and fissure
decay which continues throughout adulthood. Not only
does this vary from person to person, but also varies
for the same person over time because changes in personal
habits, health status and medication are known to increase
the risk of decay. Lack of access to fluorides and fluoridated
water, a history of previous decay, and chronic xerostomia
(dry mouth) are also factors your dentist will consider
when evaluating you for sealants.