Dental sealants are quickly becoming the go-to treatment for kids who need extra help in preventing cavities. Without proper oral hygiene, plaque forms, generating bacteria that produces acids that demineralize the enamel, creating cavities. According to the ADA, sealants reduce the risk of decay by up to 60% over 4 years. The reasoning behind sealants is that the chewing surfaces of our molars have deep fissures and cracks in them which normal brushing isn’t always able to clean adequately. Sealants are said to protect these vulnerable areas from tooth decay by ‘sealing out’ bacteria generating plaque and food.
Dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth – usually the back teeth — to prevent tooth decay. Sealant materials fall into two main categories based on the type of curing reaction that takes place:
- Glass ionomers are cured chemically.
- Composite resins are cured with light activation.
The process has several steps. It is done by a dentist or dental hygienist:
- The surface of the tooth is polished to remove plaque and food debris from the pit and fissure surfaces.
- The tooth is isolated and dried.
- The surface of the tooth is etched with acid.
- The etching material rinsed off and the tooth dried.
- The sealant is applied.