At Bagley Dental, we offer several preventive treatments designed to protect your child’s teeth. One of these treatments, dental sealants, can save your child from tooth decay in the molars and premolars. Sealants are plastic coatings that are placed on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces of the permanent back teeth. Most sealants are clear, white, or have a slight tint depending on the type. We typically recommend sealants as soon as these teeth erupt beyond the gum tissue, which is usually between the ages of 11 and 13. In some cases, we may also recommend the use of a sealant on a primary (baby) tooth, especially if your child is prone to cavities. A sealant on a primary tooth can prevent future complications, like premature tooth loss.
Why Use Dental Sealants?
The chewing surfaces of the molars and premolars have deep grooves or fissures that make them vulnerable to decay. In some instances, these grooves can be so thin that even the bristle of a toothbrush cannot reach the deepest parts. A sealant is an excellent way to eliminate this problem. The plastic coating will literally “seal” off the groove and create a more even surface that is easier to clean. This can be especially important for children, who are notoriously bad brushers.
If these areas remain unprotected, chances are high that the acid from the bacteria in plaque will attack the enamel. Eventually, a cavity will develop, and we may need to place a filling. In addition to regular fluoride treatments, sealants deliver extra protection that will keep your child’s teeth healthy and free of decay.
While it is much less common, we may recommend dental sealants for adults, especially if they are at a higher risk of developing tooth decay. For adults, a sealant can only be used on a tooth that does not already have a filling or restoration.
Dental Sealant Procedure
Placing a dental sealant is a relatively simple procedure. First, J. Andrew Bagley DDS or W. Ryan Bagley DDS will thoroughly clean the surface of the tooth using a paste and rotating brush. Next, we will place an acidic solution onto the grooved areas to create a rougher area than the rest of the enamel. This abrasive area helps the sealant better adhere to the tooth. Then, the tooth will be thoroughly cleaned and dried once more, before we apply the sealant. The sealant is applied in a liquid form and then hardened using a special curing light. Once the sealant is hard, it will transform into a plastic varnish coating that protects the occlusal surface.
How Long Do Sealants Last?
Once the sealant is in place, it can last for many years. If necessary, it is also possible to replace an old sealant with a new one. You should schedule regular appointments so we can ensure the effectiveness of the sealant, and check for any wear. While a sealant does provide protection, it is no substitute for regular oral hygiene. Be sure that your child is brushing and flossing their teeth daily.
Schedule an Appointment
If you are interested in learning more about dental sealants or would like to schedule an appointment, call (509) 547-1631 now!