Dental sealants are one of the most important inventions of modern dentistry. The first tooth sealants were produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Since then, sealants for kids have become a major weapon to prevent tooth decay. There has been a national effort to get all kids’ teeth sealed.
However, there remain misconceptions and confusion about dental sealants. Among the biggest questions:
- Are dental sealants safe?
- How long do dental sealants last?
- Can dental sealants be removed?
- Do dental sealants for children really reduce risk of cavities?
We hear questions like these from patients every day. We’ve assembled answers that should help you gain a better understanding of dental sealants and why you should consider them. We’ll even discuss dental sealants for adults – yes, they do exist.
What Are Dental Sealants?
Think of dental sealants as an umbrella. They shade teeth from all the stuff that can rain down on them, from sugar to bacteria to bits of food that get trapped in the teeth.
A dental sealant is a thin coating applied to premolars and molars. This smooth seal is applied over the deep grooves in the hewing surface of the teeth.
The sealant is made of plastic or resin-based material. It’s either white or clear, so no one can tell you have sealant on your teeth. In fact, the sealants are so thin you won’t feel a difference in your mouth, either.
How Are Sealants Applied?
The dental sealants procedure is quick and painless. First, we clean off the teeth where the sealant is being applied. After the teeth have been dried off, we put a low-acidic solution on the teeth that will help the sealant bond to them.
Then comes the application of the tooth sealant. Your dentist or dental hygienist will paint a thin layer of sealant over each tooth being treated, which will bond with the tooth enamel.
It’s important to get the sealant application dried quickly, especially with kids, who tend to squirm after a few minutes in the chair. We use a curing light that speeds up the drying process. It generally takes less than a minute.
The sealant hardens and then forms a protective barrier between teeth and bacteria. The entire dental sealants procedure lasts just a few minutes. It takes much less time than getting a filling.