What is a Dental Sealant?

A dental sealant is a thin tooth-colored resin coating that is placed on the tops of the back teeth – the chewing surfaces of the molars and premolars – in the deeper grooves to prevent bacteria and plaque from lodging there and causing decay. Dr. James R. Donley of North Muskegon, MI suggests that all of his patients get sealants on their teeth, including the backs of some of the upper front teeth if there are deep grooves – to prevent decay.

Are Dental Sealants Only for Kids?

Typically, we start placing sealants on the “adult” teeth when they start erupting around age 6 until around age 12. Any tooth with a pit or a fissure that has the potential to get bacteria trapped, is a candidate for a sealant. The bacteria, if they get stuck in these grooves can produce an acid that can “eat away” your enamel. The deeper grooves are harder to clean with a toothbrush or especially with dental floss. If done early enough before any decay has gotten into the deep fissure and into the dentin of the tooth, a sealant can protect a tooth for many years. A DIAGNOdent laser reading is taken before doing this procedure. The debris and the cavity in the pits of the teeth will show up and the DIAGNOdent will show how deep or extensive that decay is. Typically, if it’s too deep, a dental filling is placed instead of a sealant. Sealants are typically more for PREVENTION of decay.

Dr. Donley says that he even suggests it for adults who have deeper grooves on their molars but never had a cavity. Sealing up these grooves will help minimize the risk going forward for decay. It is another great preventive option for keeping your teeth healthy.

What is the Procedure for Doing a Dental Sealant?

The great thing about sealants is that they are an affordable treatment that can be done without any shots or discomfort. We start by cleaning off the tops of the teeth with a pumice material. We will then rinse off the tooth, apply a mild etchant to roughen up the surface, then after rinsing again, apply the thin sealant material into the grooves. This is then light-cured and we double check the bite, and you are done! The entire procedure only takes a few minutes per tooth.

How Long do Dental Sealants Last?

Because the sealant is placed into the deeper grooves of the teeth, they don’t get much wear and tear. Studies show that an average sealant will stay in for around 9 years. Some of the things that affect the longevity include, how well the tooth was cleaned before placing the sealant, and whether the opposing cusp “digs” into the top of the sealant rubbing it continually until if falls out. 

What a great procedure to offer our patients. Call us at Lumbertown Dental Wellness today if you have children who could benefit from sealants or if you are ready to protect your own teeth from getting additional decay in those pits and grooves on your teeth!