Modern dentistry is centered around preventative care services. The most popular of these services is professional teeth cleaning services that remove additional plaque and tartar from the surface of your teeth. But, what if there was a way to prevent plaque and tartar from adhering to your tooth in the first place?
While twice daily brushings and daily flossings can help to keep your teeth as clean as possible, there are some common areas in the mouth where excess plaque can collect and cause tooth decay. One of the most popular locations affected by tooth decay are the molars. This is mostly due to the fact that the chewing surfaces of molars are highly textured, making it tough to completely remove all the plaque from their surface.
Most people are okay with regular dental daily hygiene and regular dental visits to clean off any plaque accumulation. However, some people may need additional preventative treatments to protect against tooth decay. One such treatment are dental sealants. Because many people are unfamiliar with dental sealants, here are five facts about them:
1. Protect Molars
Dental sealants are applied to molars in order to protect them from tooth decay. Since molars are located in the back of the mouth, are the largest teeth, and have several pits and fissures on their surface, they are especially prone to plaque accumulation and cavity formation. When sealants are applied, they act as a thin shield over the tooth enamel which prevents bacteria from accumulating and attacking the tooth enamel. This decreases the risk of cavities and ultimately protects the molars.
2. Different Colors
There are different variations of dental sealants that can affect their coloring. The materials used for dental sealants are glass ionomer cement, resin cement, and a hybridization of the two. Depending on the material used for the sealant, it can be clear, white, or customized to the exact color of the tooth. In most cases, dental sealants are not visually noticeable once applied.
3. Completely Safe
Dental sealants are brushed over the surface of the tooth and do not require any preparation or enamel modification. Recently some have raised concern over the fact that dental sealant materials contain BPA. However, the American Dental Association has performed significant research and has deemed dental sealants to be completely safe. In fact, they note that simply breathing air exposes one to more BPA than the amount in dental sealant materials.
4. Highly Effective
Dental sealants have been proven to be highly effective. The American Dental Association notes that sealants reduce the risk of dental cavities by 80%. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seconds this and additionally notes that dental sealants can continue to protect the tooth from 50% of cavities 2-4 years after the initial application.
5. Recommended for Certain Patients
Dental sealants can be used for anyone, however there are certain patients who may especially benefit from the use of sealants. For example, dental sealants are often recommended for children because they don’t always brush as well as they should. Patients who have an injury or arthritis in their hands that makes it hard to reach the back of their mouth can also benefit from sealants. Finally, sealants can be used for patients who have a physical or mental impairment that makes it difficult to maintain a proper dental routine.
At the end of the day, dental sealants offer protection, variety, safety, and effectiveness, especially for certain dental patients. This preventative dental treatment can be used as a supplemental measure to regular teeth cleanings and daily dental hygiene to further reduce the risk of developing cavities in the molars. The next time you visit your general dentist’s office, ask them about whether or not dental sealants can benefit you.
Dr. Paul H. Kim obtained his dental doctoral degree at the UCLA School of Dentistry in 2002. Upon graduation, he worked at a multi-specialty dental office in Los Angeles as an associate doctor until he opened his own dental practice in 2005. He has taught at UCLA Dental School as a clinical instructor. He has post-graduate training in implant dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics and sedation dentistry. He is an active member of several dental organizations, and he is currently teaching other doctors to provide quality dental services to their patients. He is passionate about helping people achieve great and confident smiles and good oral health.