The molar and premolar teeth are predisposed to decay. Their chewing surfaces have fissures or grooves that are usually deep and narrow. Plaque can easily accumulate in these surfaces. The bacterial acids in plaque are likely to attack the enamel, and cause tooth decay.
Regular brushing of these surfaces helps in getting rid of most of the plaque. Fluoride also helps in protecting the surfaces and preventing dental caries. If you want to double up on the protection, you may want to consider using dental sealants on these pitted and grooved areas.
Your dentist will put sealants, or plastic coatings, on the chewing surface of your premolars and molars. The sealants make the surfaces smoother, preventing food debris and plaque from accumulating on them and causing decay.
When are sealants used?
Ideally, you should have dental sealants applied when the permanent molars appear and their chewing surfaces have fully erupted past the gum. The dental sealants seal the surfaces and give them the protection they need against the persistent buildup of plaque.
Dental sealants are commonly placed on the chewing surfaces of permanent molars and premolars. These areas normally have deep crevices vulnerable to plaque. If you have other permanent teeth with deep pits or grooves, you can also ask your dentist to put sealants on these teeth for protection. Some parents have their family dentists put sealants even on their kid’s baby teeth (molars) to protect them from decay, and save money on further dental visits and cleaning.
Kids and teenagers are the ideal candidates for dental sealants. They can avoid decay in the grooves and depressions found in their premolar and molar teeth. If you are an adult, and you do not have fillings or decay in your molars, you can also have your dentist put dental sealants to reduce the risk of dental caries.
What is the procedure for applying dental sealants?
Your dentist will prepare your tooth for the sealants by removing food particles and plaque from the surface. He will use a rotating brush and paste to do this. He will then wash the tooth with water, and allow it to dry.
He will then put an acidic solution on the pitted region of the chewing surface, leaving it there for a few seconds before rinsing it off completely. The acid creates microscopic rough surfaces ideal for making the dental sealant adhere to the tooth.
Once the tooth becomes dry, your dentist will put dental sealant in liquid form on the chewing surface. To harden the sealant, your dentist will use a light designed for this purpose. He may also opt to use a two-component sealant that does not require the use of light to set.
When the sealant hardens, it becomes a tough coating of plastic lacquer over the toothÕs depressions, effectively shielding the area from plaque, and protecting it from decay.