Nowadays, dentists offer a variety of preventative treatments to their patients. For most people, regular cleanings, exams, and fluoride treatments are enough to maintain their oral health, as long as they practice good oral hygiene on their own. Some people, however, may need a little extra help when it comes to maintaining their oral health. In some cases this is because they may struggle with proper oral hygiene, while in other cases it can simply be that they are more susceptible to tooth decay. Regardless of the reason, your dentist may recommend using a dental sealant.
Dental sealants are thin layers of composite resin that are hardened onto the surface of the teeth in order to offer additional protection from decay. They are effective because they act as a barrier between the tooth enamel and the bacteria responsible for tooth decay. Since you may not be familiar with dental sealants, here are five key facts that you should know:
Easy to Apply
When it comes to dental treatments, one concern many people have is how they are performed. As a preventative treatment, dental sealants are non-invasive and can be easily placed. Since they are only placed on the surface of the teeth, dental anesthetics are rarely needed. To place a dental sealant, your dentist will first clean the tooth surface and then brush a thin layer of composite resin over the desired area. A special curing light will then be used to harden the composite resin.
Commonly Used on Molars
One of the most common locations for tooth decay in both children and adults are the chewing surfaces of the molars. This is because these chewing surfaces are highly textured and contain various pits and fissures necessary for grinding up food. Because of the fact that dental sealants are primarily used on the pits and fissures of molars, they are sometimes referred to as “pit and fissure sealants”.
Effective in Decay Prevention
Dental sealants have also been found to be highly effective at preventing tooth decay. The American Dental Association notes that dental sealants help to reduce the risk of cavities in children by 80% during the first two years after their application. The Canadian Dental Association also recommends the use of pit and fissure sealants as an important part of a comprehensive prevention program.
While dental sealants will act as a barrier over the natural tooth surface, they are not visually noticeable and are indistinguishable from the natural tooth structure. This is because they are fabricated from composite resin, which can be matched to the exact color of the surrounding tooth. In some cases, dental sealants can also be clear or white. Nevertheless, once the sealant is applied to the tooth, it will blend in with the surrounding structure. Since sealants are also usually placed over the chewing surface, they will not be noticeable when you smile.
Despite concerns that some people have over the possible presence of BPA in dental sealants, vigorous research has shown that sealants are safe for children and adults. This is because trace amounts of BPA may or may not be formed during the production of dental sealants. However, research has found that there is more BPA found in the air we breathe than there is in sealants. Nevertheless, there is also the option of BPA-free dental sealants.