Dental sealants are a thin layer of plastic coating that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant bonds to the teeth, preventing tooth decay and cavities. Dental sealants can be a great choice for preventing tooth decay in adults.
What are sealants?
A sealant is a thin, plastic-like coating applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. They act as a barrier to prevent cavities from forming in the deep grooves of teeth.
Children and teenagers are the most likely candidates for dental sealants, but adults can benefit from them as well. If a patient has a high risk of tooth decay due to certain lifestyle habits like taking frequent sips of sugary drinks or snacking throughout the day, a dentist may suggest applying dental sealants to protect your teeth.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than 5 million children in the United States have untreated cavities in their baby teeth. Tooth decay is five times more prevalent than asthma and seven times more prevalent than hay fever. As such, it’s imperative for parents to take preventative measures to protect their kids’ oral health.
To determine if your child would benefit from dental sealants, talk to your family dentist. He or she can determine whether your child is at risk of developing tooth decay based on his or her age and other factors.
How do sealants work?
A tooth sealant is a plastic coating that is bonded to the chewing surface of molars to prevent decay. The clear or tinted plastic material is brushed onto the surface of the teeth, where it bonds into place and hardens. Dental sealants are an effective way to reduce cavities in children and adults alike. These coatings are especially important for individuals who struggle with poor oral hygiene habits that leave them more vulnerable to tooth decay.
While brushing and flossing regularly are essential for good oral health, many people still have difficulty removing food particles from the hard-to-reach crevices on the biting surfaces of the back teeth and the premolars. These areas are highly susceptible to tooth decay because they are difficult to clean, and the mouth produces less saliva in these areas. When acid-producing bacteria are allowed to build up in these areas, they can cause decay and lead to erosion of the tooth enamel. This can lead to more serious dental health problems down the road.
Tooth sealants provide an added layer of protection against plaque buildup for individuals with vulnerable teeth. The plastic coating prevents food and bacteria from settling into the grooves of the teeth and causing decay. By preventing this from occurring, sealants can reduce the risk of cavity formation by as much as 80 percent.
When are sealants recommended?
The CDC recommends dental sealants for adult patients with grooves or pits in their permanent molars, especially those who have a history of cavities or have had trouble keeping their teeth clean. It’s especially important that patients who clench or grind their teeth get dental sealant treatment. These patients have a significantly increased risk of developing cavities in the fissures of their back teeth.
If you meet the criteria above, ask your dentist if dental sealants would be a good option for you!
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