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Dental sealant

A dental sealant is a plastic covering placed on the occlusal or chewing surface of the permanent back teeth (the premolar and molar) to help prevent decay.

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Why place a dental sealant on the teeth?

The chewing surface of the premolar and molar teeth have fissures, also called grooves, that make them more likely to decay. The groove can be deep, difficult to clean and often narrower than one bristle of a toothbrush.

Plaques can build up in these areas, and bacteria in the plaque and acid from our food can attack the enamel and cause cavities. Fluoride helps protect the teeth surfaces and prevent decay, but dental sealants offer extra protection for the pitted and grooved surfaces making the fissured areas smooth.

When can I place dental sealants?

The first sealant placement is often on the grooved of the first permanent molar tooth after this tooth's chewing surface has completely erupted from the gum. The first permanent molar comes in behind baby teeth.

Covering the chewing surfaces of the teeth with dental sealant helps to protect the tooth. Besides the wisdom teeth that erupt later in life, the premolars and molars continue erupting until age 11 – 13 and sealing their chewing surfaces can be after these teeth have come in beyond the gum.

Are dental sealants only for the chewing surface of the premolars and molars?

Dental sealants are usually for the chewing surfaces of the molars and premolars because they are the teeth that have deep fissures. Dental sealants can also be placed on other permanent teeth to protect their surfaces if they have pits or grooves.

Some children have grooves in the molars of their primary dentition (baby teeth), so they can have dental sealants placed on the teeth. The hygienist or dentist may recommend placing dental sealants on the chewing surfaces of the primary teeth.

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Can I place dental sealants on adult teeth?

Yes, you can. Although placing dental sealants on adult teeth is less common, adults at risk of caries may get dental sealants on deep fissures and grooves that do not already have sealants or fillings.

What does a dental sealant look like?

A dental sealant can be white, clear or with a slight tint, depending on the sealant the dentist uses.

What is the procedure for dental sealants placement?

The first step is the hygienist or dentist thoroughly cleaning the tooth surface with a paste and rotating brush. The next step is washing the tooth with water and then drying it. The dental professional will apply an acidic solution on the fissured area of the tooth's chewing surface for a few seconds, then rinse it. The acidic solution will create small microscopic areas and a fine, rougher surface around the tooth enamel that is visible under a microscope.

The microscopic areas and rough surfaces help the dental sealant adhere to the tooth. After the tooth dries, the dental professional will place a liquid dental sealant on it and harden it with a special light. The dentist can also use a two-component dental sealant that doesn't require a light. The sealant becomes a hard plastic varnish coating when it hardens, and you can chew on the teeth.

How long does a sealant last?

Dental sealants have been effective since the 1970s. Several studies have shown that dental sealants effectively prevent decay on the teeth' chewing surfaces. A dental sealant can last several years, and you can place a new sealant on the tooth.

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Is using fluoride still necessary if I have dental sealants?

Yes, it is. Dental sealants only protect the tooth's chewing surface, but fluoride helps to protect the entire tooth from cavities and decay.

You can get dental sealants at McKennell Dental Practice to protect the chewing surface of your premolars and molars. Visit our dental practice today or call 020 7834 8802 to book an appointment with our dentist for dental sealants.