Ask a Grand Rapids Dentist: How Does a Sealant Help Prevent Decay?

October 9th, 2014 by ifi-admin

Beautiful family portraitAt Tournell Family Dentistry, we believe in helping families achieve optimum dental health that’s economical and practical. For that reason, we advocate the use of sealants in helping prevent tooth decay. We think it makes more sense to prevent cavities than to treat them, though of course, we offer fillings when the need arises.

Here are a few questions and answers about how sealants help prevent tooth decay.

Q: What is a Sealant?

A: A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, premolars and molars. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids.

Q: Why Not Use Sealants on All Teeth?

A: Sealants are used on pits and fissures because they are places that are extremely difficult to clean. Smooth surfaces of the teeth, however, are more readily cleaned by thorough brushing and flossing, plus the normal flow of saliva. Most cavities form in the pit and fissure areas.

Q: Is Applying Sealant a Complicated Procedure?

A: No. Sealants are easy to apply and take only a few minutes per tooth. The teeth that will be sealed are cleaned. Then the chewing surfaces are conditioned to help the sealant adhere to the tooth. The sealant is then painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens using a bright light.

Q: Are Sealants Only For Children?

A: No. While it’s good to start early in preventing pit and fissure decay, adults can benefit from sealants as well, particularly if they have risk factors such as dry mouth, a history of decay and a lack of access to flourides..


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