The first step in maintaining a healthy mouth is preventing tooth decay, and although thorough brushing and flossing help to remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of our teeth, toothbrushes bristles cannon reach all the way into the depressions and grooves of back molars to extract food and plaque.
Dental sealants, however, can protect these vulnerable areas by creating a barrier that protects the tooth enamel from cavity-causing plaque and acids.
Most tooth decay in children and adolescents occurs on the chewing surfaces of these back teeth because they have irregular surfaces with pits and grooves which tend to trap food and bacterial debris.
Children between the ages of 5 and 14 may benefit most from sealants, although adults can benefit from treatment as well.
Dental sealants are a clear or tooth-coloured acrylic-like material that is applied to the occlusal or chewing surfaces of children’s molar or premolar (back) teeth to help prevent decay.
The biting surfaces of these teeth contain “pits” and “fissures” that are susceptible to decay but sealants prevent tooth decay from emerging by shutting off two essential elements decay needs: oxygen and bacteria from food particles. Dental sealants that are applied using appropriate techniques and remain intact are nearly 100% effective in preventing tooth decay in the chewing surfaces of the back teeth.
Sealants help to maintain sound, intact teeth. Decay destroys the structure of a tooth and each time a tooth is filled or a filling must be replaced, additional tooth structure is lost. Sealants can save time, money and the discomfort that may be associated with more expensive restorative treatment that may be required to repair the damage caused by decay.
Sealants are used primarily on the back teeth and cannot be seen when a person talks or smiles. Sealant applications hold up well under the force of normal chewing and can last several years before re-application may be needed.
Because teeth are more susceptible or occlusal decay soon after they erupt, preventing decay during the first five to fifteen years after a tooth erupts is very important.
Thousands of children have had their teeth sealed in controlled clinical studies. These studies have shown sealants to be both effective and inexpensive.
For maximum benefit, sealants should be considered as part of a child’s total preventive dental care. The child’s teeth and gums should be examined regularly to check bite, tooth eruption, and the condition of both hard and soft tissues.
Yours for better dental health,
Dr. Russell Grover