Dentist in Falls Church, VA Shares the Importance of Dental Sealants
Dental sealants are a type of treatment that most people have heard of, but few probably know exactly what sealants are. Before diving into specifics, the simple answer is that sealants are a great way to protect teeth early in life from developing cavities. Sealants have been shown to be so effective in preventing cavities in young permanent teeth that their application is now considered a universally assumed treatment.
Why are sealants necessary?
Before understanding what sealants are, it’s important to know why they are needed. There are several places on a tooth where a cavity can form:
• In the grooves of the biting surface
• In between two teeth
• On the smooth outside/inside surface
• On the edge, if a front tooth
Of all the places cavities most commonly develop, the grooves in the biting surface and in between teeth are the most common. Sealants are applied to the biting surfaces of back teeth.
Because back teeth such as molars and premolars have unique anatomy typified by “pits” and “fissures,” cavity-causing bacteria have an easy time hiding out in these hard-to-reach places. Over time they multiply and eat away at the tooth surface, thus causing a cavity.
When sealant material is flowed into these deep pits and fissures, they are “sealed” off, thus removing bacterial hideouts and reducing the incidence of cavities.
When and how are sealants placed?
Sealants are typically recommended for children as their permanent molars begin to emerge. Since permanent molars erupt in a predictable fashion, sealants are often done 4 at a time in two different appointments:
• Around 6 years old, 6 year molars are sealed (4 teeth)
• Around 12 years old, 12 year molars are sealed (4 teeth)
Some dentists may recommend the sealing of premolars if they have especially deep pits.
Placing sealants requires no needles, no drilling, and is painless. The process is started by “etching” the teeth with a material that cleans and prepares the tooth structure on a microscopic level. The sealant material is then flowed into the pits and fissures, excess is removed, and a specialized light is shined over the liquid sealant to harden or “cure” it. Once all 4 have been placed, the dentist or staff member will ensure that the material is not interfering with the patient’s bite.
Sealants are an excellent way to prevent the formation of cavities early in the lifespan of permanent teeth. Although they can technically be placed at any age, they are especially helpful for children, whose oral health habits and cleaning abilities are not fully developed yet. No matter the case, with sealants you can be sure that your teeth have an added layer of protection from decay.
Have questions for your dentist in Falls Church, VA? Please call Peyser Dentistry today at (703) 893-3333. Our accommodating staff can't wait to assist you.