Dental Sealants

Your smile is a visual representation of your oral health and is the first thing people notice during interactions. At times, you could risk your smile and oral health by engaging in acts that increase your susceptibility to tooth decay and cavities. Tooth decay is a common dental issue caused by poor diet choices and a failure to care for our teeth properly. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 90% of adults over 20 years old have at least one cavity.

Tooth decay and cavities affect adults and children and can cause severe pain and discomfort. Preventing tooth decay or stopping its progression would be cheaper and better than undergoing painful treatment procedures. Thanks to dental sealants, there is a way to keep your smile healthy by preventing tooth decay.

Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings applied to your molars and premolars to prevent bacteria from entering pits and fissures between the teeth. When you consult your dentist for preventive dentistry, they can assess your teeth and recommend sealants. At Dr Joseph Goodman's dental clinic, we offer expert dental services for our clients throughout Beverly Hills, CA.

What are Dental Sealants?

Dental sealants are thin coatings applied to the chewing surface of your teeth to prevent and stop tooth decay. The coating acts as a protective layer to prevent bacteria and residue food particles from accumulating on the ridges of your molars and premolars. Studies show that dental sealants prevent 80% of cavities in the back teeth over two years, where most cavities occur.

Dental sealants are a standard preventive dental procedure. Your dentist can recommend dental sealants when you have healthy teeth or show signs of tooth decay. You may be a good candidate for dental sealants if you want to:

Prevent the Formation of Dental Plaque

Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the surface of your tooth enamel. Plaque is formed after the accumulation of food particles on your teeth and gums. It harbors bacteria, which cause tooth decay and cavities. Even for individuals who practice good oral hygiene, like brushing and flossing regularly, plaque could form on the teeth.

When your teeth are sealed, the surface becomes smoother, making removing the food particles easy before they accumulate to form plaque.

Prevent Periodontal Gum Disease

When bacteria accumulate on the surface of your teeth, it will cause decay, transferring the infection into your gums. This can cause further complications, like gum disease. Periodontal gum disease causes pain and discomfort and can result in tooth loss. You can reduce the risk of developing this condition by protecting your molars and premolars from bacteria and plaque.

Avoid Invasive and Costly Procedures for Repairing Decayed Teeth

Without dental sealants, your teeth are prone to bacteria and decay. If you develop these dental complications, you may need invasive procedures like root canals, dental fillings, and dental implants to restore the tooth. By undergoing a procedure for dental sealants, you protect yourself from tooth decay and cavities.

Prevent the Loss of Essential Minerals from Teeth

Your teeth contain minerals that strengthen them, improve their functionality, and maintain their shine. Essential minerals could be lost when acids erode tooth enamel from cavity-causing bacteria. This will weaken your teeth and can also cause discoloration.

When dental sealants are applied to your teeth, a barrier is created between the enamel and the bacteria. This allows you to maintain the strength and appearance of your natural teeth.

Prevent Tooth Loss

Untreated tooth decay and cavities are many Americans' leading causes of tooth loss. Tooth decay can begin as a small mark on the tooth enamel. As bacteria continue to thrive and damage the enamel, the decay progresses to the inner part of the tooth. Tooth decay detected and addressed in the early stages, can be stopped.

However, your dentist may recommend extraction when the entire enamel is damaged and the tooth is completely damaged. Tooth loss through extraction can cause various complications, including shifting of neighboring teeth and damage to the jawbone.

You can avoid losing your teeth and the consequences of tooth loss by undergoing a dental sealant procedure. When applied to healthy teeth, dental sealants will prevent tooth decay, while sealants applied to slightly decayed teeth can avert the progression of decay to cavities.

Dental Sealant Materials

A common question among individuals about dental sealants for protection against tooth decay is what the sealants are made of. There are several dental sealants, and your choice of a sealant material will depend on your budget and desired outlook.

Common types of dental sealants include:

Composite Resin

This type of dental sealant is made with a ceramic and plastic composite. Most individuals prefer the tooth-colored variety of composite sealant to ensure that the color of your tooth surface looks natural. Composite sealants are hardened using a curing light. This increases their retention rate and could serve you for decades before requiring repair.

In addition to its long-lasting properties, the composite resin is hydrophobic. This means that the material does not retain moisture. This will help keep away bacterial contamination caused by stagnant moisture on the tooth surface. Your dentist can recommend this type of sealant for primary and permanent teeth.

If you have slightly decayed molars or premolars, these dental sealants will help stop the decay.

Polyacid Modified Resin

This type of sealant is made from a blend of resin and ionomer. No water is used to make the polyacid-modified resin sealants. Therefore, the sealant is hydrophobic and delivers fluoride in low amounts to your teeth. Dentists will recommend this type of dental sealant for children to protect their primary teeth from decay and cavities.

Glass Lonomer

Dental sealants made of glass ionomers are set apart from others by their ability to release fluoride for a long time. Fluoride helps strengthen your tooth enamel and lowers the risk of decay. When applying the glass ionomer sealants, the dentist will not need to pretreatment because the acid-base will bond the material to the enamel. This makes the placement of this type of sealant faster and easier.

Dental Sealant Procedure

Finding the proper measures to protect your teeth from decay and cavities is easier than undergoing extensive treatments to restore your teeth from decay and cavities. Before you undergo a dental sealant procedure, your dentist will assess your oral health to determine eligibility.

When you understand the procedure for the sealants, you can feel more at ease undergoing the procedure. Most dentists will follow these steps to apply dental sealants:

Cleaning and Drying of the Teeth

Your dentist will clean your teeth to prevent bacteria and plaque formation. In this case, the cleaning involves scrubbing the tooth, brushing, flossing, and rinsing. This helps increase the efficiency of the sealants in keeping out harmful bacteria. After cleaning, the dentist will wrap cotton or another absorbent material on the tooth to dry it.

Applying the Acidic Solution

Before applying the sealant, the dentist will pour an acidic solution into the solution, which will help the sealant bond effectively with the tooth enamel. Applying the acid bond will not cause any pain or discomfort. Additionally, the dentist will not alter the structure of your enamel.

Applying the Sealant

Your dentist will rinse and dry your teeth with the acid solution to ensure they are ready for the sealant. Dental sealant materials are thin plastic liquids. Therefore, your dentist will pour it on the surface of your molars and premolars. The process of applying the sealants takes less than five minutes. The sealants add a thin protective layer to the enamel.

Hardening the Dental Sealant

The dentist will shine a curing light over the surface of the teeth where the sealant is applied. The curing light hardens the sealant to ensure it is firm and long-lasting. After the procedure, your dentist will offer tips to ensure your sealants serve you longer. 

How Dental Sealants Stop Tooth Decay

Dental sealants are effective preventive measures for tooth decay and can also stop the decay process midway. The tooth decay process begins when the residue of food particles attracts bacteria and forms plaque. The bacteria produce acids that remove minerals from your tooth enamel and begin to damage it. Tooth decay can start with a small spot on your teeth and progress to damage the enamel and dentin when left untreated.

When detected early, tooth decay can be stopped using dental sealants. Some of how the sealants can stop the tooth decay process include:

Sealants Act a Protective Barrier

We eat different types of foods each day to maintain a balanced diet. Even with healthy diet choices, most foods will be broken down into sugar, accumulating in our mouths and teeth. The sugar in food creates a conducive environment for cavity-causing bacteria. These bacteria produce acids that erode and damage the tooth enamel.

Although brushing and flossing daily can help reduce the impact of these acids on your teeth, tooth decay is a gradual process that begins with demineralization. Frequent attacks on your tooth enamel by acids will destroy it and cause cavities.

When dental sealants are applied to the chewing surface of your teeth, they create a barrier between the enamel and the bacteria. However, you must still watch what you eat because the sealants only protect the tooth's chewing surface, and other parts could be exposed to the leftover food particles.

Dental Sealants Make Oral Hygiene Easier

Molars and premolars have ridges on their surfaces for effective chewing and grinding of food. Food particles could stick on these ridges, making cleaning the teeth challenging. Proper brushing of your teeth can remove food from your teeth. However, some sticky foods could be left behind on these grooves. When food particles are left on the tooth for a while, they attract bacteria, damaging the enamel.

Fortunately, the application of dental sealants can help remedy the situation. The sealant material covers the deep grooves on your premolars and molars, making cleaning easy. If you are in the early stages of tooth decay, sealing the tooth can help prevent the progression of the condition.

Sealants Offer Long-Lasting Benefits

The lifespan of dental sealants is a concern for many patients seeking lasting solutions for tooth decay. When the bonding material is applied correctly, it can protect you from tooth decay and cavities for a prolonged period.

Your dental sealants can last up to five years without needing repair. The key to ensuring longevity is to follow the aftercare tips offered by your dentist when caring for your teeth after the procedure.

Care for Dental Sealants

After applying dental sealants, your risk of developing dental cavities decreases significantly. Dental sealants do not require special treatment. However, proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits may be necessary to increase their lifespan.

Care tips that your dentist can recommend after a dental sealant procedure include:

Brushing At least Twice a Day

Brushing your teeth is the most basic form of oral hygiene. Although dental sealants make cleaning your teeth and removing residue food particles easy, dentists still recommend brushing twice daily. You should use a soft-bristled toothbrush when brushing your teeth to avoid damaging the sealants.

Floss Regularly

Dental sealant is applied to the surface of your teeth. Therefore, plaque and tartar can still accumulate between your teeth. The plaque harbors bacteria that produce acids and erode your tooth enamel. Flossing helps to dislodge the food particles from between your teeth.

Avoid Chewing Hard Candy and Ice Cubes

Biting or chewing hard candies foods or using your teeth as teeth could damage your dental sealants. When your dental sealants are broken or damaged, your teeth are exposed to bacteria that cause tooth decay and cavities. In addition to damaging the sealants, chewing ice and hard foods can damage your teeth and predispose you to further oral health complications.

Minimize Intake of Sticky Foods

Sticky foods not only cause an accumulation of sugar in your mouth, but they can also pull out your dental sealants. This occurs when you attempt to clean out the sticky foods by brushing or flossing hard. You can ensure your dental sealants last longer by minimizing or avoiding sticky foods like dried fruits and candy.

Rinse your Mouth with Mouthwash

Another way you could protect your dental sealants and increase their lifespan is by rinsing your mouth with antiseptic mouthwash. You can do this after flossing or brushing your teeth. The antiseptic mouthwash cleans out the leftover food particles and kills bacteria that could cause tooth decay and cavities.

Attend Regular Dental Appointments

You should not wait to have damaged dental sealants to schedule a dental appointment. Sometimes, you may not notice that your sealants are damaged or your teeth have signs of decay. You can have your dentist examine your teeth for sealant damage by scheduling regular dental checkups. Additionally, you can get professional teeth cleaning, which helps prevent cavities.

Dental Sealants Frequently Asked Questions

Learning what dental sealants are and how they are applied to your teeth helps you be ready for the procedure and its outcome. The following are frequently asked questions on dental sealants:

  • Is sealing your Teeth Better than Filling the Cavities?

Applying dental sealants is a preventive measure for tooth decay and cavities. The procedure is quick, easy, and not invasive. If your healthy teeth are sealed, they will remain cavity-free and retain their strength for longer. However, unsealed teeth are prone to decay and cavities. This could weaken the tooth's structure.

Dental fillings do not strengthen your teeth. Instead, the filling material covers the cavities from bacteria and leftover food particles. Therefore, it is better to take precautions by sealing your molars and premolars instead of waiting for them to develop cavities and fill them.

  • Can I Ask a Dentist to Seal my Child's Teeth?

Yes. Tooth decay and cavities is a common problem among young children and teenagers. According to Webmed, 42% of children between 6 and 11 have dental sealants. Sealants are a preventive procedure for both adults and children. Studies show that sealants are up to 80% more effective when applied within two years of erupting the first tooth in young children.

  • What is the Cost of Dental Sealants?

A recent Centers for Disease Control study shows that dental sealants are an easy and inexpensive procedure for preventing tooth decay in adults and children. When your dentist recommends detaching sealants for you or your child, the cost of the procedure is a cause for concern.

Dental sealants cost you between $30 and $60 per tooth, which is relatively lower than other procedures like dental implants. Some of the factors that could impact the cost of your dental sealant procedure include:

  • Availability of dental care. Your geographical location and the availability of dental care in the area can significantly impact the cost of your sealant procedure.
  • Experience and expertise of your dentist. More experienced dentists could charge more for a dental sealant procedure. However, seeking their services means that your sealants will be fitted using the proper techniques, and you will avoid complications associated with sealant damage.
  • Material used. Dental sealants are made of different materials, including glass ionomer and composite resin. These materials vary in not only appearance and strength but also their cost.
  • Number of teeth that need sealing. The cost of dental sealants is determined per tooth. Therefore, the number of teeth that need sealing could impact the overall cost of your procedure.
  • Presence of discounts. If you consult a dentist who offers discounts for the procedure, you could pay less for the dental sealants.
  • Insurance coverage. Dental sealants are a preventive dental procedure. Therefore, your dental insurance may partially cover the cost of the procedure. This will reduce your financial burden on the procedure. Before your dental sealants are placed, consult with your insurance provider to determine the amount they will cover.
  • Is the Dental Sealants Procedure Painful?

Some individuals have a low tolerance for pain. This makes them nervous at the thought of undergoing a dental procedure.  Undergoing a dental sealant procedure is easy, quick, and does not cause any discomfort. The sealant material is laced on the tooth's chewing surface without interfering with the tooth's structure.

  • Do Sealants Make the Tooth Feel Bulky?

No. The dental sealant material is thin and is used to fill the pits on your molars and premolars. The material is then hardened using a curing light. Therefore, the sealants will not make you feel uncomfortable. Sometimes, children can feel the sealant in their tongue, but it takes a short time to adjust to the changes made by the procedure.

  • Does My Child Still Need Sealants if My Water Has Fluoride?

Yes. Sealants and fluoride prevent tooth decay in two different ways. Fluoride strengthens your tooth enamel, reducing the risk of cavities damaging it. Conversely, sealants create a barrier between your teeth and harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay. Therefore, your children may still need sealants while drinking fluoridated water.

Find Expert Dental Services Near Me

Regardless of how well you clean your teeth, there is always room for tooth decay. This is because several other factors, such as disease and medication, could cause dental complications. Your dentist could recommend dental sealants for you or your child to protect your teeth from harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay.

Dental sealants create a barrier between your teeth and food particles. Additionally, the plastic coating on the tooth surface makes it easy to clean the teeth. Dental sealants are a fast and non-invasive procedure desirable for adults and children. For most dental procedures, your choice of dentist could dictate your experience and the procedure's outcome.

You will benefit from the top-notch dental services we offer at Dr Joseph Goodman's dental practice if you seek to protect your teeth from cavities through dental sealants. Our skilled dentists provide safe and reliable services to meet the specific needs of our clients in Beverly Hills, CA. Contact us to book an appointment at 310-860-9311.