Sealing The Deal: What You Need To Know About Dental Sealants

Posted on: 28 October 2016

There are many, many ways of protecting your teeth against potentially harmful bacteria and habits. However, even if you brush four times a day, floss twice, use mouthwash after every meal, religiously avoid sugar and carbs, and only (and constantly) drink water, there's still a chance that you'll be vulnerable to a cavity or two in your lifetime. So what if there was a way to further protect your teeth against bacteria that aims to infect and destroy them? If you're curious about dental sealants and how they can protect your teeth, then here's what you need to know.

What are dental sealants?

Dental sealants are basically a thin sheet of plastic-like film that your dentist can paint onto your teeth—specifically onto the chewing side of them—that act as a shield against any teeth-harming bacteria. The sealant, once it dries, molds itself indivisibly from your tooth, ensuring that every hill and valley is covered in the protective shield. The shield itself is most commonly made out of long-lasting, fluoride-containing resin, but can also be made out of glass ionomer cement; sealants made out of GIC are generally less long lived, but seem to protect your teeth a hair or two better. Once set, these sealants generally last for about half a decade.

How is sealing done?

Your dentist (or other dental health professional such as a dental therapist or an orthodontist) will use a tool that looks like a tiny paintbrush to gently brush the wet, liquid sealant onto the areas of your teeth that are involved in chewing (most commonly the tops of the molars, which, due to their shape, are most prone to cavities, as food can get trapped there), provided that said teeth are clean and dry. Once the sealant is painted on, depending on the type of sealant it is, it's either set with an ultraviolet radiation light or left to dry for a few minutes by itself. During this time, it's your dental health professional's job to keep saliva away from the sealant, as it can disrupt the sealing process and/or make the sealant worthless.

Who can get sealants?

Practically anyone is a good candidate for getting sealants done; all they require is teeth without cavities and a dental health professional with a steady hand. Your dentist might be more likely to recommend that you get your teeth sealed if you have unusually deep depressions in your teeth, come from a family with a higher number of cavities than average, have enamel defects, or wear braces or other orthodontic gear that makes it harder to brush, floss, and generally keep your teeth clean.

For more information on sealants and other dental services, talk to a dentist like J R Gassman DDS.