WHAT IS A DENTAL SEALANT?
Sealants are composed of the same material as white, composite, fillings. They are used to fill or seal the exposed pits and fissures on teeth preventing plaque accumulation and eventual decay.
WHY DOES MY CHILD NEED SEALANTS?
The biting surface of adult molars are riddled with pits and fissures. In most cases, these grooves and so thin and deep, they cannot even be accessed by the tip of a toothbrush bristle. They can however accumulate plaque: bacteria and food debris. This anatomical situation makes molars highly prone to decay.
Sealants serve to fill or seal these pits and fissures preventing plaque accumulation in those regions and eliminating the risk of cavity formation. In fact, studies have shown that sealants can reduce the risk of developing decay on a back tooth by up to 50%.
HOW ARE SEALANTS PLACED?
Prior to placing a sealant, pumice is used to remove all plaque and food debris from the biting surface of the teeth to be sealed. Similar to placing white fillings, the grooves are then prepped with a mild acid to allow proper bonding to the tooth. After rinsing and drying the sealant is placed. Again, like white fillings, it is hardened with use of the curing light, a light we shine on teeth to set the material. That's it! The procedure can be completed in less than one minute per tooth to be sealed. The only difficulty comes with the necessity that no saliva can land on the tooth as this will prevent bonding to the tooth. As such, during placement cotton will frequently be used to isolate the tooth. Children will also have to be able to stay open wide and not move too much during these short intervals.
WHAT SHOULD BE EXPECTED AFTERWARDS?
There are no special precautions associated with sealant placement. Once they are set by the curing light, you cannot cause them any harm. Since there is no drilling done on the tooth it is a completely painless procedure and no anesthetic is required.