Dental sealants are similar to fillings but are placed on teeth that may be susceptible to cavities, rather than teeth that already have cavities. Dental sealants involve a white filling like material that gets placed on a tooth surface to block bacteria from making contact and potentially causing a cavity. They are placed in grooves and crevices of teeth that are difficult to clean. Difficult to clean teeth are more likely to develop cavities. Cavities can easily form on the biting surfaces of the molars or pits on the front or back of the teeth. Dental sealants are an inexpensive way to prevent cavities and loss of healthy tooth structure.
When Are Dental Sealants Used?
- In young patients who may not yet have the dexterity or understanding to be brushing and flossing their teeth adequately
- When there are deep grooves in the biting surfaces of the teeth
- When there are deep pits in the front or back surfaces of the teeth
- For patients with dry mouth
- For patients who have had previous restorative work
- For teeth that erupt with defective enamel (such as hypoplastic enamel) to prevent cavities from forming
How Are Dental Sealants Placed?
Dental sealants are easy and quick to place and don’t require any freezing or drilling. First, the teeth that will be getting the sealants will be cleaned out. Then an etching material will be used on the teeth to help bond the sealant material to the teeth. The teeth will be thoroughly dried, and the sealant material (which is much like a white filling material) will be dispensed onto the teeth. The dental sealant material will be contoured into a thin coating over the susceptible areas. Once in place, the sealants will be light-cured in place to harden the dental sealant material. Dental sealants can last many years, but they should be checked each time you see your dentist and dental hygienist to monitor the condition of the dental sealant.