Preventing tooth decay and cavities is an essential part of oral health. However, while brushing and flossing can go a long way toward protecting your smile, they are not always enough on their own. Children in particular are especially susceptible to dental problems. Dr. John Rink and his team at Charleston Center for Cosmetic & Restorative Dentistry in Charleston, SC, place dental sealants over vulnerable teeth as an additional layer of protection from decay.
Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings applied to the chewing surface of your teeth in the areas that are most susceptible to plaque and trapped food. These sealants smooth out the places where cavity-causing bacteria can attach and can thus prevent decay.
Dental sealants may seem like a minor treatment, but the benefits can have a long-lasting impact.
The treatment itself is fast and painless. In most cases, Dr. Rink can finish the procedure in a single visit. During the appointment, we will first thoroughly clean you or your child's teeth to remove any debris and decay. We will then dry the teeth and apply a mildly acid solution to the enamel. This roughens the surface enough to allow the sealant to firmly bond to the teeth. Once applied, the sealants are hardened onto the teeth using a special curing light. The doctor will typically ask patients to avoid eating or drinking for at least half an hour afterward to ensure that the sealants dry.
While sealants can protect people of all ages from cavities and decay, we most often recommend them for our younger patients. Because children are still learning good oral hygiene, food debris and bacteria often become trapped within the inner grooves of their teeth. By adding an extra layer of protection for kids, sealants can guard their oral health until they develop an effective hygiene routine.
However, sealants work best in tandem with consistent oral care. Consequently, we still encourage all of our patients to practice good habits, such as brushing and flossing.
Sealants can last anywhere from three to 10 years, depending on how well they are maintained. In some cases, a sealant can even stay in place from childhood to adulthood. Dr. Rink will carefully examine your sealants during regular dental exams to ensure that the sealants have not worn away. If a portion of the coating is dislodged or tears off, patients or parents should schedule an appointment immediately to replace it.
Dental sealants may seem like a minor treatment, but the benefits can have a long-lasting impact. When bacteria settle within the grooves of the teeth, plaque and cavities can form. If these cavities go untreated, bacteria will spread to the gums and neighboring teeth, resulting in decay and tooth loss. The longer damaged teeth go untreated, the more serious the oral health concerns may become. By taking a preventative measure before any signs of decay arise, patients can experience better lifetime health benefits.