At D. Ian Bell, D.D.S., we believe in preventing oral maladies before they have a chance to start. If we can help you keep your mouth happy and healthy, we are doing our job right! By avoiding oral issues like cavities, you are often able to avoid more serious oral issues like gum disease, tooth loss, and even bone loss in your jaw. For this reason, we offer dental sealants. Dental sealants are an easy to apply product that allows us to give your teeth a protective barrier against cavity-causing plaque and tartar.
What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants are a coating of hard plastic that we apply to the chewing surfaces of your back teeth, The teeth that receive dental sealants are usually the molars and premolars. Dental sealants act as a shield for the portion of your teeth that they cover.
Why We Place Dental Sealants on Teeth
The obvious reason that we place dental sealants on your teeth is to prevent cavities from forming. However, how do dental sealants help to protect your teeth from cavities? The chewing surfaces of your molars and premolars have lots of peaks and valleys, grooves and fissures. These fissures can be deep and, at their deepest, they can be more narrow than a single bristle of your toothbrush. If your toothbrush can’t reach the bottom of these fissures, you can’t hope to brush away the plaque and tartar that build up within them, which will surely lead to cavities. Dental sealants are painted onto your teeth as a liquid that eventually hardens. As a liquid, it will flow into these fissures and protect them from decay-causing bacteria.
When We Place Dental Sealants
Our goal is to protect your molars from decay, so the best time to have sealants placed is when the permanent, adult premolars or molars erupt from the gums. Once the chewing surfaces of these teeth have fully erupted from the gums, we can place a dental sealant on them. Except for the wisdom teeth, the molars will tend to erupt through the ages of 11 to 14. We will be happy to place dental sealants on your children’s teeth as they erupt which will help to keep them protected from harmful bacteria.
Where We Place Dental Sealants on Teeth
As mentioned above, most of the dental sealants that we place are placed on the chewing surfaces of the adult premolar and molar teeth. We will occasionally place dental sealants on other adult teeth that have fissures or grooves that can benefit from a sealant. We will sometimes recommend that dental sealants be placed on baby teeth if they are at a particular risk for decay.
Dental Sealants on Adults
While the lion share of dental sealants that we place are placed on teens and preteens, we also occasionally place them on adults who are at a higher risk for cavities. Some people, through genetic predisposition, have a much higher likelihood of developing cavities. If they have molars or premolars that do not have fillings in them yet, we are always happy to give them peace of mind by placing dental sealants on their teeth.
What Dental Sealants Look Like
Depending on the variety of sealant that we use they can turn out clear, white, or have a slight tint.
The Dental Sealant Placement Procedure
The first thing that we have to do to is prepare the teeth to receive the sealant. It is critical that we clean them thoroughly before placing the sealant on the teeth to ensure we will not be trapping bacteria below them. We will clean the surfaces of your teeth with a paste and a special brush. We will rinse the tooth with water and dry it thoroughly. We will then apply an acidic solution to the surfaces of the teeth that will receive dental sealants. This acidic solution is left on the teeth for a few seconds before we rinse it off. The acidic solution works to roughen the surface of the tooth to make it easier for the sealant material to gain purchase on your teeth.We will dry the teeth again and paint the liquid dental sealant material onto the surfaces of your teeth. We will leave the liquid sealant on your teeth to harden over the period of a few minutes. We will apply a special light to the liquid sealants to aid them in the hardening process. Once dried, the sealants will become a hardened plastic, almost a varnish.
How long do dental sealants last?
Dental sealants have a long history of success in the dental community that dates back to the 1970’s. Many millions of teeth have been saved over the years that dental sealants have been used. There are a plethora of studies that show that dental sealants are effective in preventing cavities in the occlusal surfaces of teeth. Dental sealants can last a very long time but are known to fail within 7 to 10 years. For this reason, you should come in for regular cleaning and examinations, during which time we can check on your sealants and repair or replace them if need be.
Keep Using Fluoride
While dental sealants are an extremely effective way of preventing cavities on the chewing surfaces of premolars and molars, the vast majority of your mouth will remain unprotected, which is why it’s important to use toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps to strengthen the enamel of your teeth. By strengthening the enamel of your teeth, you give them a fighting chance against cavities.
Is there BPA in sealants?
There is a very small portion of BPA in dental sealants, but not nearly enough to cause you any harm. In fact, you receive more BPA from touching a receipt, putting on makeup, and exposure to dust.
Is it covered by my dental plan?
Some dental plans do cover dental sealants, but every single plan is a little bit different, so the only way to know is to call them and ask.
Please call us today at (425) 883-8333 to schedule your appointment. We look forward to seeing your smile!