Dental Sealants Protect Your Teeth From Cavities
Hamilton Town Dentistry is happy to provide dental sealants to protect teeth from getting cavities. Dental sealants are made of a resin based flowable material that is put into the grooves of molars and sometimes premolars to prevent cavities. While dental sealants can be used to prevent cavities for patients of all ages, they are most commonly used in children. We most commonly recommend sealants around the age of 6 when the permanent 1st molars come in and again around the age of 12 when 2nd permanent molars erupt. Research shows that sealants reduce the incidence of decay on permanent molars by 80%.
Sealants work by "sealing" the deep grooves on back teeth where cavities commonly form. When teeth first erupt into the mouth the grooves are not completely fused or coalesced. What this means if that you were to look at a permanent molar under a microscope soon after it comes into the mouth, the deepest part of the groove would not be fully formed together. Often times kids are not the best brushers either. What then happens is food gets stuck down in these deep grooves and the child is not able to properly get it out. This eventually causes tooth decay, otherwise known as caries or a cavity.
So what do dental sealants do exactly? Sealants are comprised of a flowable resin material that is able to adapt down into the grooves of the tooth and seal everything off. The grooves being sealed keeps food from getting trapped in the teeth causing cavities. The sealants being placed soon after eruption of the permanent molars gives the grooves time to fully form and also gives kids time to become better brushers. The end goal is to stay cavity free. Sealants are a purely preventative procedure.
Many people want to know what exactly is involved with getting sealants. Our dentists, Dr. Sullivan and Dr. Hopkinson are happy to provide a detailed explanation of the process of dental sealants. "As always, we first review your medical history, explain the procedure, and ask any questions you may have. We then determine the best isolation technique to keep your teeth dry during the procedure. We will either use a combination of cotton rolls, dry angles, and a bite block or a really cool attachment on to our suction called Isolite. Isolite protects your cheek and tongue all while providing suction and light to create the best environment for sealants to be placed. After achieving adequate isolation, we clean the grooves of the teeth off carefully with phosphoric acid. We then completely rinse and dry the tooth. After the tooth is completely dried, the sealant material is carefully placed into the grooves of the teeth and manipulated to ensure a complete seal. The sealants are then light cured and your bite is checked. Your occlusion is adjusted and polished as necessary to ensure everything feels perfect before you leave."
Top 5 most common questions we hear regarding dental sealants
- Do I have to get numb to have sealants?
Anesthesia is not required for dental sealants. Sealants are comfortable, easy, and pain free.
2. How long will it take to have the sealants placed?
An average time for 4 sealants to be placed at Hamilton Town Dentistry from start to finish is 30 minutes.
3. I know you can do sealants on my kid's teeth but can you seal my tooth as an adult?
We sometimes recommend a sealant on an adults tooth if we think it is at high risk of developing a cavity due to abnormal anatomy or a deep groove. While placing a sealant certainly won't hurt anything, the benefit is reduced on most teeth once a tooth's grooves are allowed to fully form. The odds are if you are 35 years old and haven't developing a cavity in the grooves of a tooth, you won't.
4. How much do sealants cost?
Most insurances cover sealants 100% for kids as a preventative service.
5. How long do sealants last?
Sealants can last up to 10 years but commonly last 3-5 years. This gives the tooth's grooves time to fully develop. Obviously the longer we can keep the sealant in place the better. When a sealant fails, there is no harm done to the tooth, the sealant simply will come off partially or in its entirety. At this point, Dr. Hopkinson or Dr. Sullivan will make their recommendation on whether it is better to replace the sealant or leave the tooth alone.