A Guide to Dental Sealants

What can you do to protect your teeth from decay? Most dentists will recommend the standard approach – clean your teeth twice every day, floss and make sure you visit your dentist regularly. Certainly, that is the most cost-effective approach. But is there a more sure-fire way of stopping that nasty bacteria from attacking your teeth?

The problem with brushing and flossing our teeth is that some of our teeth – especially those molars at the back – can be really hard to reach. So how sure are you that you are always giving them the attention they deserve? If you’re in a hurry to get to work in the morning or if you are tired and ready for bed in the night, you may not be cleaning them as well you think.

Dental sealants may be an answer for some people. Dental sealants work in pretty much the same way as other types of sealants. If you are putting a sealant on concrete or brickwork for example, it acts as a thin protective layer that stops damp, rain and damage.

Dental sealants do the same job, but on your teeth. And it isn’t damp and rain that they protect you from, it is the build up of plaque, tartar and bacteria. Dental sealants help to stop fissures and cracks from appearing in teeth, where bacteria builds up and decay can set in.

The process is quick, straightforward and pain-free. In the first instance, your dentist takes a close look at the back teeth. It is the back teeth that grow with natural fissures which makes them prone to decay. If this is the case, then your dentist may recommend dental sealants. You can have sealants on all of your back teeth or your teeth can be sealed individually. It’s a very flexible treatment. It all depends on what you want and what your teeth need.

Next, the teeth which have been chosen to be sealed are given a good clean. This is so that no debris, such as food, becomes trapped under the sealant. A solution helps the sealant to adhere to the teeth, then an intense blue light helps the sealant to toughen up very quickly.

Your dental sealants will usually protect your teeth from decay for around a decade. Dentists recommend that, even though you have invested in sealants, you should also maintain a high quality oral hygiene programme. Therefore, you should continue to brush your teeth regularly with a fluoride toothpaste and floss regularly to remove any debris after meals. What’s more, because the surfaces of the back teeth are now much smoother as the natural fissures have been filled in, they are actually easier to clean.

Therefore, dental sealants are a very useful weapon in fighting bacteria and preventing decay – and therefore, of course, preventing painful future dental work such as fillings. Where dental sealants can be particularly useful is in the case of children. Around the age of 6, children lose their milk teeth and their adult teeth begin to emerge. Over the next few years, as these teeth continue to come through, it is a good time to consider dental sealants. The next ten years are when their teeth are most vulnerable to decay.

Dental sealants are colourless and tasteless, so once you have had the sealant applied you can forget it is there. Just carry on looking after your teeth as normal. It is important that you continue to visit your dentist regularly so that you can have your sealants inspected. Even though your sealants can last for a long time, they can become worn or cracked. Your dentist can fix these problems easily, simply be adding another layer of sealant when and where required. In this way, you can maintain your sealants quickly and easily and ensure that your teeth are protected against decay for many, many years.