They are brushed or painted onto the tooth – in the deep grooves and pit areas. ( Think nail polish) Dental Sealants are done as a preventive measure to help keep teeth healthy, strong and cavity free. They are most often done on permanent bicuspids and molars. These are your chewing teeth. If you did not have sealants done when you were a child, you can look in a mirror, you can see little grooves and sometimes even staining in the pits of these teeth. Or, your teeth might already have fillings in these areas. These areas are developmental grooves and pits from the tooth forming. Sometimes during the formation of the teeth, there are defects in these areas too.
Pits and fissures – or grooves – are the areas prone to decay because they trap food and bacteria. This causes Cavities! Even the best brushers cannot keep these areas clean because the bristles of the brush are too big to fit into the grooves. We recommend sealants to be done once the adult molars and bicuspids have fully erupted in the child’s mouth. This is usually around age 6 for the first permanent molars. Then periodically as bicuspids erupt and again at age 12 when the 2nd molars come in.
To apply the dental sealants, the teeth must be cleaned well, then dried. An Etch solution is applied to the teeth. This helps bond the sealant to the tooth. The etch is rinsed off really well and then the tooth is dried again. The sealant material is applied to the teeth with a syringe like brush applicator. Then we use an Ultraviolet light to cure or harden the sealant. The sealant is checked to make sure the proper hardness and bonding has occurred. The average lifespan of a sealant is 1 – 10 years. This can vary greatly due to peoples habits, home care, ice chewing, and bruxism ( tooth grinding).
Patients with sealants should be careful to not eat real sticky – chewy candies. They also should not chew Ice or really hard candy. This can cause the sealants to crack and pieces of the sealant can come off. Sometimes the whole sealant comes off if kids crunch on lots of hard things! If the sealant comes off, the tooth is no longer protected in those vulnerable areas. Clenching or Grinding can also cause fractures of sealants or make them come completely off.
Regular Check-ups are necessary to make sure the dental sealants have not come off, or are chipping. If it comes off, it needs to be replaced. If you know you have a broken or lost sealant, you should call our office for an appointment to have it replaced. 920-733-2445