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Most people are aware of the importance of taking care of their teeth. We are told to brush at least twice a day, floss daily, and visit the dentist regularly. However, even with all of that, cavities can still form. That's where sealants come in. Sealants are a type of preventative dental care that can help reduce your risk of developing cavities. But what are they exactly? Keep reading to find out.

What Are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are a type of preventative dental care. They are thin, plastic Coatings that are applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth - the molars and premolars. The sealant bonds to the tooth and creates a barrier, protecting it from plaque and bacteria.

Are Dental Sealants and Dental Fillings The Same Thing?
No, dental sealants and dental fillings are not the same thing. Dental fillings are used to treat cavities that have already formed, while dental sealants are used to prevent cavities from forming in the first place.

How Do Dental Sealants Work?

Dental sealants work by filling in any grooves or pits in the teeth that may be susceptible to decay. Even though thorough flossing and brushing can remove food particles and plaque from the teeth, it is often impossible to get into the nooks and crannies of the pre-molars or molars. The food particles will begin to decompose as they continue to stay there. The bacteria in the mouth turn the residual sugars into acid which then attacks the enamel. By sealing off these areas with a protective coating, you can help reduce your risk of developing cavities.

Are Dental Sealants and Dental Fillings the Same?

Dental sealants cover and bond to the tooth in the same way that cement fills potholes, ensuring a smooth, less prone to cavities surface. In that regard, some individuals might conflate dental fillings and dental sealants. But despite their apparent similarity, the two are very distinct.

  • A dental filling fills cracks or cavities caused by tooth decay. As a result, the materials used in fillings, such as metal, are more durable. However, because dentists use them on decayed teeth, the tooth's natural structure has already been compromised.
  • On the other hand, a¬†sealant stops the cavity from developing in the first place. The material of choice for its composition is plastic resin since it is flexible enough to suit the fissure and repels any bacterial liquids that could otherwise try to enter. They also let the tooth retain its natural form and integrity.

Who Should Get Them?

Children and teens are typical candidates for dental sealants. These groups often have a higher possibility of developing dental caries in the grooves and depressions of the back of the teeth. Therefore, they're most effective on children aged six to fourteen. 

Pre-molars and molars in children should get them as soon as they erupt. Sealants can occasionally be used on baby teeth as well. Since baby teeth are necessary for the development of permanent teeth, it is essential to maintain good dental health to prevent tooth loss in children.

Are Dental Sealants Safe?

Yes, dental sealants are safe for both children and adults. They have been used for over 50 years and have been proven to be an effective way to prevent cavities.

How Long Do They Last?

Sealants can last up to ten years before requiring a replacement application. However, because they can become cracked or chipped over time, it's essential to keep up with regular dental checkups/cleanings to ensure they are in top-notch condition and are still capable of maintaining their defensive duty.

Conclusion

Dental sealants are a type of preventative dental care that can help reduce your risk of developing cavities. They work by filling in any grooves or pits in the teeth that may be susceptible to decay, creating a barrier between your teeth and bacteria or plaque. Sealants are safe for both children and adults and have been used for over 50 years. If you're looking for an extra layer of protection for your teeth, talk to your dentist about getting dental sealants today!

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