Dental sealants provide a simple but effective preventive solution to the issue of tooth cavities developing on chewing surfaces of the back teeth. The back molars have pits and fissures for chewing, but they tend to trap food debris, and the bacteria they harbor are often hard to clean, despite regular brushing. Applying dental sealants over the molars and premolars reduces the occurrence of cavities by limiting the presence of bacteria and food particles on teeth.
The benefits of dental sealants
The American Dental Association defines sealants as “barriers” against tooth decay. A dental sealant is simply a plastic coating applied over the grooves of the back teeth to prevent bacterial plaque and food debris from accumulating there and demineralizing the hard enamel layer. The preventive treatment is mostly provided for children and teenagers because their teeth are particularly prone to plaque and cavities when they erupt, but using sealants on adult teeth can be effective as well.
Reduction in cavity occurrence
Dental sealants are effective for preventing cavities, but applying them over a tooth already affected by cavities will not halt the progress of the decay. When used appropriately, sealants can reduce the number of dental fillings the patient will need during their lifetime. Dental sealants are highly resilient and can survive several years of use.
The dentist will examine the sealants during routine dental checkups, repairing or replacing them as required. Although dental sealants can shield baby teeth, the main targets are usually the child’s permanent back teeth, including the molars and premolars. The sealants will protect the teeth against bacteria, especially in areas that are hard to reach when brushing.
A study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that school-aged kids without dental sealants, when compared to those with sealants, were three times more likely to develop cavities than their peers. In the same report, the CDC noted that dental sealants could potentially save millions of dollars in dental costs around the country.
Good oral health
Oral hygiene also has direct implications for how a child performs in school. Kids who have tooth decay often have trouble eating and sleeping, which may have adverse effects on their attendance and performance in school. While it seems far-fetched to say that providing dental sealants will improve a child’s performance, they do have a direct impact on the child’s health and mental clarity.
Simply put, if the child has to worry less about tooth cavities by getting dental sealants, it could set them up for success and prevent minor issues from getting worse. There are no disadvantages to getting dental sealants. The sealants may chip or break, but this is rare, and repair or replacement is relatively easy.
Good oral hygiene and dental sealants are complementary ways to prevent or reduce the presence of plaque and eventual cavities. Regular brushing, flossing and visits to the dentist are still important. If you are considering getting dental sealants, book an appointment with the dentist for a consultation.
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