A dental sealant is a resin-based (plastic) flowable restoration that’s designed to help prevent cavities. We most often place sealants on first molars (6-year molars) in children, but we can place sealants in adults and on almost any posterior tooth if necessary.
Before we discuss why we use sealants, we need to review a bit of tooth anatomy. If you look at your back teeth, you will see that they have crevices and grooves. Some people have very shallow grooves, while other people have teeth with very deep, pronounced grooves. Deep grooves alone aren’t an indication for having sealants placed, but if a person has deep grooves and a high rate of cavities, sealants are usually indicated.
The reason we seal teeth under these conditions is because deep grooves are more likely to trap food and bacteria than teeth with very few or very shallow grooves. Thus, in a patient with a high rate of cavities, a high-sugar diet, and/or a poor regimen of home care and brushing, we need to seal the grooves in order to prevent the aforementioned buildup.
Sealants are placed in a similar manner to how we place white fillings. In most cases we do not need to use anesthesia, as the drilling is very superficial and only used in the enamel (top tooth layer) in order to clean out the grooves before we seal them. When placing a sealant, we want to make sure that the area to be sealed is free of decay, as we do not want to seal-in decay on a tooth. Once the groove is cleaned, we prepare the enamel, and use a flowable composite material (white filling) to fill in the space. Once the sealant is completed, the child can usually eat and drink right away!Get in Touch
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