Sealants are a clear or white
plastic that are placed in the grooves of the biting surfaces of back teeth.
Back teeth have deep grooves and pits that are very difficult to keep clean.
Plaque, which is a nearly invisible film of bacteria and food, collects in
Look how the plaque shows up after
it's stained with red dye. Every time you eat, the bacteria in plaque forms
acid. Without sealants, these acid attacks can cause the enamel to break down
and decay. Then you have a cavity.
To place sealants, first our Houston dentist thoroughly cleans and dries the teeth. A conditioning solution is applied, and then the sealant material is brushed into the grooves of the teeth.
Some types of sealants harden on
their own, while others harden when exposed to a special light.
Sealants are an important part of a preventive dental care program.
How does a sealant help prevent decay?
A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to
the chewing surfaces of the back teeth—premolars and molars. This plastic resin
bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing
surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from
plaque and acids.
Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles
and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. But toothbrush bristles cannot reach
all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque.
Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by "sealing out" plaque and
Is sealant application a complicated procedure?
Sealants are easy for your dentist to apply, and it takes
only a few minutes to seal each tooth. The teeth that will be sealed are
cleaned. Then the chewing surfaces are roughened with an acid solution to help
the sealant adhere to the tooth. The sealant is then 'painted' onto the tooth
enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special
curing light is used to help the sealant harden.
As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface
will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal
chewing and usually last several years before a reapplication is needed. During
your regular dental visits, your dentist will check the condition of the
sealants and reapply them when necessary.
Sealants are just for kids, right?
The likelihood of developing pit and fissure decay begins
early in life, so children and teenagers are obvious candidates. But adults can
benefit from sealants as well.
Key ingredients in preventing tooth decay and maintaining a
healthy mouth are twice-daily brushing with an ADA-accepted fluoride
toothpaste; cleaning between the teeth daily with floss or interdental
cleaners; eating a balanced diet and limiting snacks; and visiting your dentist
regularly. Ask your dentist about whether sealants can put extra power behind
your prevention program.
Source: American Dental Association
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