Dental professionals are no stranger to tooth decay. Dental sealants been saving teeth since 1960s. According to a study done by the CDC, 1 out of every 5 children aged 5-11 and 1 of 7 adolescents aged 12-19 have dental decay. However not only children suffer from tooth decay. A study done by the Canadian Dental Association there was a 35% untreated decay on permanent teeth. Dentistry is about prevention, however without utilising this component than these resources are null and void. Dental sealants is one of these prevention components.
Dentition is covered by a thin layer of bacteria-packed biofilm called plaque. This plaque binds with acids upon eating and drinking and attack the tooth surface. By brushing and flossing helps eliminate plaque but due to the anatomy of the molars, which are the teeth at the back consist of deep pit and fissures on the occlusal surfaces which are hard to thoroughly be cleaned. This is where sealants come to place.
Dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth — usually the back teeth (the premolars and molars) — to prevent tooth decay. The sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and grooves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.
Applying a thin, flowable plastic-like substance to these hard to access areas just like premolars and molars ( back teeth) will “seal” off these crevices and assist in preventing dental decay.
In the mid- 1960s, Drs. Michael Buonocore and E.I. Cueto introduced the first commercial sealant. The dental sealant has been stated as one of the most significant advances in modern dentistry. This is simple, acts as a barrier preventing acid and bacteria from resting in pit and fissure destroying enamel.
Dental sealants have been evolved over the years making application easier for the children and the patient. Children are the ones who benefit the most, adults can also reap the benefits from sealant application, thus in never too later to protect those chewing surfaces from tooth decay. That not only will save money and time but also from further future issues involving tooth decay and having them restore over and over again.
As soon as the 6-year old molars fully erupt in the dentition, it is adviced sealants to be placed. This process should be repeated when the 12-year old molars erupt as well.
n some cases, dental sealants may also be appropriate for baby teeth, such as when a child’s baby teeth have deep depressions and grooves. Because baby teeth play such an important role in holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth, it’s important to keep these teeth healthy so they are not lost too early.
Applying sealant is a simple and painless process. It takes only a few minutes for your dentist or hygienist to apply the sealant to seal each tooth. The application steps are as follows:
- First the teeth that are to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned.
- Each tooth is then dried, and cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry.
- An acid solution is put on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to roughen them up, which helps the sealant bond to the teeth.
- The teeth are then rinsed and dried.
- Sealant is then painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.
Sealants can protect teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wearing at regular dental check-ups. Your dentist can replace sealants as necessary.
Many insurance companies cover the cost of sealants but usually only for patients younger than 18. Check with your dental insurance carrier to determine if sealants are covered under your plan.
Some dental circles have brought up rising concerns of the exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) from dental sealants a few hours after placement. Studies report materials that contain small, trace amounts of BPA are not a health concern due to the low levels reported (0.0001%). In fact, according to the American Dental Associations (ADA), breathing air exposes people to 100 times more BPA (0.13%) than dental sealants. Because of this concern, many companies now offer BPA-free dental sealants.