Preventing cavities is an important part of dental health, especially because cavities can cause pain and have negative consequences for overall health. In addition to maintaining good oral hygiene, your dentist may also recommend dental sealants to help prevent tooth decay. Learn more about sealants and how they’re used below.
What Is a Dental Sealant?
A dental sealant is a thin material coating that a dentist may place on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to prevent cavities. Dental sealants seal up grooves and fissures in the surface of the molars to create a barrier between the teeth and the outside world.
Dental sealants work to prevent decay by blocking out bacteria and food particles that could lead to the development of a cavity if allowed to linger on the tooth itself. Compare this to fluoride varnish, which prevents cavities by strengthening the teeth but doesn’t actually separate agents of tooth decay from the tooth’s surface.
How Do Dental Sealants Work?
Many types of dental sealants are available, including glass ionomer sealants and composite resin sealants. However, all dental sealants are applied in similar ways. First, the dentist may apply an etching solution to the tooth, which makes it easier for the sealant material to attach. Then, after cleaning and drying the tooth, the dentist paints the surface with the liquid sealant. Finally, the sealant is hardened using a reaction or by shining a dental curing light on the tooth.
Once hardened on the tooth, a dental sealant can last for years, keeping out bacteria, preventing cavities from developing and stopping initial lesions from progressing into cavities. The sealant application process is simple, and the results are effective.
What Does It Feel Like to Get Dental Sealants?
Getting dental sealants placed on the back teeth is typically easy and comfortable for patients. The sealant material is brushed onto the surface of the tooth and hardens in minutes, so no pain is involved. Though some people can feel the sealant on the tooth for a while after application, the sealant itself generally doesn’t cause discomfort. In fact, getting sealants as a preventative measure can prevent discomfort in the form of cavities and fillings later on!
Are Dental Sealants Safe?
Dental sealants can provide great health benefits by preventing tooth decay and keeping natural teeth healthy. Some concerns have been raised about potential exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) — a substance found in plastics — the amount of BPA contained in dental sealants is minuscule, well within safety margins established by Health Canada.
Any exposure to BPA that does occur happens during the application process and the few hours that follow, as the sealant material becomes highly stable once hardened. If you have concerns about the safety of dental sealants, talk to your dentist about the steps they take to minimize risk.
Who Can Benefit From Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants provide benefits for many dental patients by working to prevent cavities in the molars. Because these back teeth can be difficult to keep clean, dentists often recommend dental sealants for children and adolescents who have increased risk of developing cavities, though adults may have sealants applied to the teeth, as well.
Some of the potential benefits of dental sealants for people of all ages include:
- Teeth less affected by decay and cavities
- Reduced plaque on the molars
- An easy application process compared to restorative treatment
Find Out Whether Dental Sealants Could Be Right for You
Dental sealants act as a shield, protecting the teeth from decay. If you’re wondering whether you or a family member might be a candidate for dental sealants, reach out to Dental Choice or visit one of our offices in Calgary or Edmonton. We strive to provide compassionate care and preventative treatment for patients of all ages.