Using dental sealants is a popular and effective way to help prevent tooth decay. Placing dental sealants on the teeth is a process which involves the dentist bonding a plastic coating directly into the grooves of each tooth. This results in a smoother tooth surface which is less likely to trap food and plaque, both of which can lead to tooth decay.
Tooth decay is primarily caused by bacteria found in plaque. Plaque is the white film which forms on the tooth and the longer it remains there, the greater the chance of developing tooth decay. While brushing with a toothbrush is an effective method of removing plaque, some teeth are harder to clean than others. For example, the back molars are more difficult to reach with a toothbrush which makes it harder to remove plaque. If plaque is left on these teeth, there is an increased risk for decay.
By using sealants and bonding a specialized plastic resin on the tooth surface, a smoother tooth surface is created. This makes it much easier to remove plaque, thereby resulting in cleaner teeth which are less likely to succumb to tooth decay.
Applying sealants is an easy procedure which generally takes only a few minutes to complete. Prior to applying the sealant, the teeth are thoroughly cleaned and then roughened with an acid solution which helps the sealant adhere better. Each tooth that is being treated is then painted with the sealant solution and the solution is allowed to harden.
Sealants make for a very effective barrier against decay, and generally last several years. The sealant holds up well under the normal force of chewing, allowing teeth to remain protected for long periods of time. While especially effective in children who have not yet had a lot of tooth decay, sealants are also recommended for adults as well. Preventing tooth decay is a key to maintaining the health of your teeth throughout your lifetime, and sealants are a very powerful form of tooth protection.