What is a sealant?
A sealant is a plastic material applied to the biting surfaces of back teeth. Most dental decay occurs in the grooves and depressions of back teeth – these areas are deep and impossible to clean properly with tooth brushing or rinsing.
Who should have sealants?
Children receive the greatest benefit from having sealants applied to their teeth especially to newly erupted permanent teeth (e.g 6yrs & 12 yrs molars.) Some children will also benefit from having sealants applied to their primary (baby) teeth. But any tooth with deep grooves or pits may benefit from sealant.
How are they applied?
Firstly, the tooth is cleaned thoroughly; the surfaces are then etched (roughened) with a weak acidic solution to help the sealant attach to the tooth. Finally the sealant material is applied in a liquid form and is hardened in 30 seconds.
Having a sealant placed is a very simple and comfortable procedure: no anesthesia is required and they can then eat and drink normally, immediately afterward’s.
How long do sealants last?
Clinical studies have shown that after a single application, and the sealant is in place the surface will remain 100% free from decay. However, like all materials placed onto teeth, sealants can wear an occasionally parts may fall off. Should this happen your dentist can easily repair or add to the sealant (provided the deficiency is detected early, before dental decay has begun)- this is a lot easier than filling a decayed tooth.
What about cost?
Sealants cost less than fillings, but you save more than money – you spare unnecessary fillings and toothaches.
Will sealants show?
Some sealants are “clear” in colour, others are tinted but nobody will be able to see sealants.
If your have sealants, are brushing and flossing still important?
Absolutely!! Sealants are only one step in the plan to keep your cavity free for life. Brushing, flossing and regular dental visits re still essential to a bright healthy smile.
Read more information from the Dental Foundation of Ireland on Fissure Sealants