A sealant is a thin, plastic coating place on the chewing surfaces of teeth. Their purpose is to seal any deep grooves (known as pits and fissures) on the teeth. More than 75% of dental decay begins in these deep grooves. Teeth with deep grooves can be very difficult to clean properly and are therefore very susceptible to decay. A sealant covers these grooves leaving the patient with smooth, easy to clean surfaces.
Reasons for Dental Sealants
- Children and young teens: From the ages of 6-16, children are prone to cavities due to challenges with diet regulation and lack of dexterity for ideal oral hygiene. From the time they get their first permanent molars (at around age 6), children benefit tremendously from the placement of sealants to prevent cavities.
- Adults: Although less common, adults may also benefit from the placement of sealants when very deep grooves are present or life changes have occurred that increase risk for developing decay.
- Baby teeth: Occasionally sealants are placed on baby teeth with deep grooves or depressions in children that are cavity prone.
How is a dental sealant placed?
Sealants may be applied by your dentist, dental hygienist, or qualified dental assistant. The process takes only a couple of minutes per tooth and requires no needles for anesthesia.
Teeth to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned and dried. A solution is applied to help the sealant bond to the tooth. The teeth are then rinsed and dried. Sealant material is placed strategically onto the pits and grooved found on the surface of the teeth then hardened with a special curing light.
You can increase the longevity and effectiveness of sealants with excellent home care, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits.
A Note about BPA in Dental Sealants
It is not uncommon for dental sealants to contain BPA (bisphenol A). BPA is a chemical that has a similar structure to estrogen. It may bind to estrogen receptors and affect the function of your body. This is especially critical in children and infants who are still in the process of growth and development. In our office, we do not use any dental products containing BPA. Our sealant material is Clinpro (3M ESPE) and has been listed BPA-free by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.