At Dr. Kurt Gibson, DDS, we offer dental sealants to protect teeth from decay, which in turn, preserves the aesthetics of your smile.
What are Sealants?
Dental sealants are plastic coatings placed on the surface of the permanent teeth in the back of the mouth (molars and premolars) to prevent tooth decay. We use them because the chewing surfaces of your molars and premolars have grooves or fissures that make them subject to tooth decay. These grooves are often quite deep and difficult to clean. Some are narrower than even one toothbrush bristle.
Since these areas are hard to reach while brushing, plaque builds in those areas more easily. Bacteria in the plaque release acid that attacks the enamel of those teeth, potentially leading to cavities. While fluoride can help prevent decay and protects all the surfaces of your teeth, dental sealants give additional protection for sections with grooves and pits by covering those areas with a smooth surface.
When are Dental Sealants Used?
We generally place the first dental sealant on the groove of your first permanent molar once the chewing surface of that tooth has finished emerging from the gum. This tooth comes in behind the baby teeth it displaces. If the chewing surfaces of your molars are sealed, the sealant will protect them. Except wisdom teeth (which emerge much later), premolars and molars don’t stop erupting until around age 11 to 13. Once the surfaces of those teeth are done erupting beyond the gum, we can seal them.
Sealants are also available for adults who are at risk for tooth decay. We place the sealants on deep fissures that do not yet have sealants or dental fillings. However, this is not as common of a procedure as the ones for children.
What is the Procedure for Placing Dental Sealants?
Dr. Kurt Gibson, DDS will first clean the surface of your tooth thoroughly with a rotating brush and paste. Then he’ll wash it off with water and dry it. After that, we apply an acidic solution for a few seconds on the grooved area of the tooth’s chewing surface before rinsing it off. This process will make the surface of tooth finer and rougher than the surrounding enamel. This rougher surface allows us to attach the sealant to your tooth.
Once the tooth is dry again, we place the liquid dental sealant on it and let it harden.
We harden the sealants either using a light or occasionally with a two-component dental sealant that hardens without the light. The sealant turns into a hard plastic varnish coating once it hardens, allowing you to chew on the tooth again.
How Long Do Dental Sealants last?
Dentists have used dental sealants effectively from the 1970s onward. Research has proven that they are exceptional at preventing the chewing surfaces of molars from decaying. Dental sealants can last for many years if they are properly cared for by way of proper oral hygiene. We can also place new sealants on our patients’ teeth if necessary.
Even if you have dental sealants, fluoride treatments are still needed. This is because the sealants only protect the surface of the teeth on which they are placed, while fluoride protects all the surfaces of a given tooth from cavities and tooth decay.
For more information about dental sealants, please call us at (336) 283-2593.