A dental sealant is a very thin plastic coating that is literally painted on your teeth. Usually it is applied to the premolars and molars to protect the chewing surfaces to prevent tooth decay. Let’s look at some reasons why dental sealants are advantageous, the process to get the dental sealant actually applied, and the benefits and care necessary to extend the life of the product.
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Dental Sealant Candidates
The easy answer is anyone. Our molars have tiny fissures in them. So small that one single tooth brush bristle won’t get into it. These fissures can be deep, difficult to clean, and therefore invite bacteria carrying plaque. Fluoride applications can help prevent decay in these surface areas but a dental sealant can easily provide extra protection. The sealant will provide a smooth surface so food and plaque can’t find their way into the vulnerable nooks and crannies that you can’t see in the depressions and grooves of those back teeth. So, even though adults can get dental sealants applied the usual candidates are youngsters. Most premolars and molars have erupted by the age of 11 to 13. That is the best time to have dental sealants added to help protect their teeth through those challenging years. Some in the industry say that the ages of 6 to 14 are cavity prone years. Yet another group will say ages 4 to 17 are the most prone. You get the idea; any child will benefit from receiving the protection that dental sealants offer. Years that beg for better oral hygiene and better eating and drinking habits. These youngsters will gravitate to too much sugar loaded candy and sweets. They’ll also enjoy sugar laden energy drinks and soda and forget to brush too often. Some in the industry are also of the opinion that baby teeth can be sealed as well. They play an important role in the development of the mouth structure and the eruption of the permanent teeth.
This is a very simple and pain free procedure. The first step is the teeth that are to be sealed must receive a very thorough cleaning. Again, usually this is directed at the surfaces of the premolar and molars. These are the teeth that naturally have the deepest grooves that need to be protected. Our dentists will deliberately use a paste and rotating brush on these surfaces. The teeth are then washed with water and dried. After that an acidic solution in placed on these chewing surfaces for a few seconds. This is a long enough time for it to get into those fissures and clear them of any bacteria. Once again the teeth are rinsed and dried. If you were to now look at the enamel surface of the tooth you would see that it is a rougher surface. This rougher surface allows the dental sealant to attach to the tooth. So, once the tooth is thoroughly dried the liquid sealant is placed on the tooth and hardened with a high intensity light. As easy as that the dental sealant becomes a hard plastic varnish like coating and you can immediately chew again. The coating can be clear or sometimes even tinted slightly white to match the natural teeth.
Durability of Dental Sealants
Dental sealants first were proven effective back in the 1970s. They have been researched and have been proven to be more than beneficial in helping to prevent decay on the chewing surfaces. Your sealant can last many years, or a solid 10 years by some studies. Regular dental checkups will look for any chipping and wearing of the sealant coverage. Fluoride applications are still recommended because the dental sealants are only protecting the chewing surfaces. Fluoride protects the vertical surfaces of your teeth from decay and cavities.
Dental Sealants & Insurance
You’ll be surprised in that many insurance companies will cover the cost of sealants for your children under the age of 18. You need to inquire with your company. It might be a stretch for you as an adult but it is a preventive measure that the industry does support. The office staff at Smile Eden Prairie can help you research the coverage offered by your insurance.
Teenagers need to be made aware that the addition of dental sealants doesn’t put their teeth into the Superman category. Even though the chewing surfaces now have additional protection, there are a lot surface remaining that is susceptible to plaque and the bacteria that is carried in that plaque. So you need to reinforce building the good habit of brushing their teeth twice a day. Not quickly running out the door, but to take their time in front of the mirror over the sink and to get all of the teeth surfaces well. They also need to be introduced to the benefits of flossing. Just like those tiny fissures and grooves on the chewing surfaces, there is surfaces between the teeth that the tooth brush cannot reach. So flossing will remove the plaque from these areas. Also, brushing is very healthy for their gums too. Doctors Zettler and Fam will encourage you to lead by example. Your children will only do as you do. So practice good oral hygiene yourself to keep your teeth healthy. Also, introduce the value of your child’s smile to him or her. Show them, tell them how it can change their self-confidence and self-awareness. Have them do their own research projects as they walk down the school hallway smiling. A healthy smile opens doors. Take your children with you twice a year to your dental exams. Teach them that the dental chair is not something to be afraid of. It’s an unfortunate perception in our society. Your dentist is your friend and is only thinking in your best interests, as well as your child. Check into dental sealants today for your child. It is a definite win-win scenario.
Contact Smile Eden Prairie
Having dental sealants can significantly impact and improve the lives of those with damaged teeth. Scheduling an appointment for dental sealants is the first step towards being confident in your smile once again. We are here to help you begin your journey towards the perfect smile! Please contact us to set up an appointment for dental sealants at (952) 941-9829. At Smile Eden Prairie, we are passionate about your smile and committed to providing you with the quality care you need!