Dr. Ivette M. Diaz
How Dental Sealants Work
by Ivette M. Diaz, DDS, at ABC123 Pediatric Dentistry
Treating children of all ages at ABC123 Pediatric Dentistry, Ivette M. Diaz, DDS, regularly provides her patients with dental sealants. Here she explains this simple procedure.
Thin plastic coatings applied to the grooves of the back teeth, dental sealants protect these teeth from tooth decay by keeping germs and food from being trapped in the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Many dentists recommend dental sealants for children when their permanent molars come in. Most children get their first molars around the age of 6, followed by the second set at about age 12. It is best to apply dental sealants soon after the teeth erupt, in order to head off any damage or decay.
Applying sealants is a painless process and does not require any drilling. First, the dentist cleans the tooth and applies a special gel to prepare the chewing surface. Then he or she washes and dries the tooth to ensure that the sealant adheres properly. Then, the dentist paints the surface of the tooth with the sealant material. Often, a hygienist or the doctor hardens the sealant with a special light, which takes about 30 seconds.
Sealants can only be seen from up close, and generally are only visible when a child opens his or her mouth wide. The sealant may feel slightly different to the tongue than the tooth did, but this difference is generally subtle, and most children get used to the sealants very quickly.
A dental sealant lasts between 3 and 5 years, and a dentist will check the sealants at dental appointments, reapplying them when necessary. Sealants work in conjunction with fluoride treatments, flossing, and brushing to keep a child’s teeth healthy and prevent decay. Sealants save time, money, and discomfort by preventing cavities before they occur, keeping teeth strong and clean.
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