At Smiles of La Mesa, we recommend dental sealants to prevent your child from becoming part of the 70 percent of Americans with diagnosed tooth decay by age 19. The treatment is sometimes appropriate for adults as well. If you’re a new parent or we have told you that you need this treatment, you may be wondering, “What is a dental sealant?”
Applying a dental sealant is pain-free, fast, and simple. For our pediatric patients, we explain what a sealant is and how it helps to keep their teeth healthy and free of cavities. Your child’s dentist places sealants on the back molars since these teeth tend to require fillings the most often. That is because they are difficult to clean with a typical toothbrush. Since most children don’t get their first molars until age six, we wait until that time to give this treatment for the first time.
The Process of Applying Dental Sealants
Before applying the dental sealant, one of our dentists cleans the tooth to ensure that the sealant remains intact after placement. We use a dental drill with a small brush attached to it for this part of the process. The second step involves coating the tooth with etching gel to prepare it to receive the dental sealant. It takes approximately 60 seconds for the gel to become sticky enough to form a strong adhesive bond. The dentist then cleans the tooth and dries it with an air gun.
Lastly, your dentist or your child’s dentist places liquid sealant on the back molars. Because it is in liquid form, the sealant is able to cover fissures, grooves, and the entire surface area of the treated tooth. This is important since fissures and grooves make it easier for food to get trapped and turn into bacteria that causes dental decay. The dentist then shines a curing light on the treated tooth to encourage the sealant to harden. The entire process takes about five minutes.
Cavity Prevention for as Long as a Decade
With a healthy diet and proper attention to oral hygiene, dental sealants may last as long as 10 years. According to research conducted by the American Dental Association, having a dental sealant in place reduces cavities by slightly more than 85 percent during the first year. This drops to 58 percent after four years, at which point you may want to consider repeating the procedure.
Please don’t hesitate to contact Smiles of La Mesa if you have additional questions about dental sealants or you would like to schedule a routine cleaning exam.