You’re on top of your dental health. You brush, you floss, and you visit the dentist every six months. And, it doesn’t stop there. You’ve also been known to use germ-fighting mouthwashes and whiten your teeth with strips or gels.
What more could you possibly do to keep that mouth of yours in top-top shape? Even though you’re certainly taking the right steps, you can add an extra layer of protection with sealants. What do you need to know before choosing this dental option?

Protective Coating

Sealants aren’t dental devices, and they don’t brush or wash off like whitening gels. They are protective coatings that “seal” your teeth. That means the sealants coat your teeth (invisibly) and protect them from the bacteria, acids, and gunk that can damage them.
Your dentist can even apply sealants over areas of decay—in other words, cavities—to stop future damage from taking place. This doesn’t mean the sealant corrects the decay or can be used in place of a filling. Instead, the dentist applies it where there is early decay to slow or stop the cavity from getting worse.

All Ages

You may have heard of sealants before, but in reference to children. Yes, children do get sealants. While dentists don’t typically apply sealants to baby teeth, children can get the coating on their permanent teeth.
Sealants may help children who are still working on their brushing skills or who tend to rush through their dental care. Of course, they aren’t substitutes for daily maintenance, and children should continue to practice healthy dental practices such as brushing and flossing.
Even though kids do get sealants, they aren’t only for pediatric patients. Plenty of adults also choose sealants as a way to protect their teeth.

Reasons for Choosing Sealants

Most patients choose sealants to get extra protection. Your teeth have grooves on them. This makes them vulnerable to decay. Teeny-tiny food particles and other debris can get stuck in these grooves. The longer the gunk sticks around, the better chance there is that bacteria will breed. This can result in decay. Sealants helps to protect these areas, as well as other not-so-smooth areas of your teeth.
In many cases, only the chewing surface of the molars are sealed. That said, you’ll certainly find exceptions to this. Patients may want to get a protective coating on other surfaces or on other teeth that have grooves or pits.

Your Appointment

What happens during your sealant appointment? If you’re worried about possible pain, don’t. These protective coatings don’t hurt. You’ll need clean teeth to start the sealing process, so before the dentist starts sealing your teeth, they’ll clean and dry them. The dentist will need to make sure that all the teeth getting the sealant are free from any debris. This also includes the gum area.
The sealant is painted onto your teeth, but it won’t stick well unless the dentist “roughs” the surface. The dental pro will put an acidic gel onto your teeth and rinse it off. After your teeth are dry, the dentist will put the sealant on. The last step is to harden the sealant with a blue light.

Long-Term Care

Just because a sealant covers the tooth’s surface doesn’t mean you can slack on after-care. It’s still important to brush and floss. Keep in mind that it’s not likely that you’ll seal each and every surface of your smile. That leaves plenty of spaces and places for bacteria to grow. At-home dental care will keep these areas healthy.
With proper care, most sealants are effective for several years. If your sealants begin to fail, it may be possible for the dentist to re-seal the tooth or the surface.
To learn more about dental sealants, contact Ashley Dental Associates at 843-767-2600 for more information.