When you get a cavity, the only way to stop the spread of decay is with a filling. While fillings are a common and simple dental procedure, you don’t have to wait until the signs of a cavity pop up before you take action. You can reduce your risk of tooth decay with a solid at-home oral care routine, regular dental checkups, and a well-balanced tooth-friendly diet.
At Dr. Darj Dental, we offer an additional way to reduce your risk of developing cavities: dental sealants. In this post, Mehrnoosh Darj, DDS, answers all of your questions about dental sealants, including what they are, who needs them, and how they work.
What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are thin protective coatings that we apply to the chewing surface of your premolars and molars. They’re completely clear, and no one will know you have them.
Dental sealants prevent decay by acting as a protective shield on your teeth. Sealants “seal out” bacteria. And if bacteria and the acid they produce when they encounter food particles can’t eat away at your enamel, you’re less likely to experience tooth decay.
But do they work? Yes! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children with sealants reduce their risk of cavities by 80%. Unfortunately, only 43% of children under the age of 11 have sealants.
Who can benefit from dental sealants?
Both adults and children benefit from sealants. The earlier you receive sealants, the more protection you have. The American Dental Association recommends that children receive sealants as soon as their permanent molars emerge. First molars can emerge anywhere between the ages of 6 and 9; second permanent molars emerge anywhere between the ages of 10 and 14.
It’s also safe to receive sealants even if you’ve already had a cavity. Sealing the tooth helps prevent future decay in that spot.
Individuals who are especially at risk of tooth decay may benefit the most from dental sealants. Risk factors for cavities include frequent snacking, frequently drinking sugar-rich beverages (including juice), inadequate brushing habits, age (either younger children or older adults), and poor brushing skills.
What to expect when you receive dental sealants
If you or your child are planning on receiving sealants, it’s normal to wonder what the process is like or if it will hurt. Rest assured, it’s completely painless and relatively quick. The process takes place after your teeth are cleaned. Here’s what you can expect:
- We dry the teeth receiving sealants
- We apply a special solution to the chewing surfaces of your molars in order to help the sealant adhere to your tooth better
- After prepping your teeth with the solution, we rinse and dry your teeth
- We then use a brush to paint the sealant onto the tooth enamel, and it bonds directly to the tooth
- We allow the sealant to harden
That’s it! Sealants protect your teeth for several years. Over time, you might benefit from a touch-up. Dr. Darj monitors your sealants during all of your dental exams and cleanings.
If you’d like to learn more about dental sealants, call our El Paso, Texas, office at 915-213-4097 today. You can also request an appointment online.