SEALANTS: IT'S PREVENTIVE DENTISTRY

WHAT ARE SEALANTS?

A dental sealant is a flowable plastic coating (clear or white) that flows into the pits and grooves of teeth, and when cured hardens and "seals out" food particles, plaque and bacteria from these high risk areas.

It's been estimated that 90% of tooth decay in school children occurs in pits and fissures. (Kaste 1996)

At Tooth & Co Pediatric Dentistry we apply sealant material that is white (easily detected), BPA and BPB free. 

why sealants are indicated?

Even if your child brushes his or her teeth regularly and carefully it is very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to clean in the very tiny pits and grooves present in some of the molars.  Some grooves run deep and are a perfect hiding place for plaque and decay-causing bacteria (figures 1 & 2, courtesy of dentalcare.com). In many instances, decay starting at the base of a deep grove goes un-noticed until it is big enough to be diagnosed visually and/or on the x-ray.  By then the child may be experiencing toothache and/or need a more invasive and expensive procedure, such as a filling, or pulp treatment and a crown.  Tooth decay occurs much faster in children than in adults.

 Fig 1.  Note the irregularities in this typical permanent molar.

Fig 1.  Note the irregularities in this typical permanent molar.

 Fig 2.  A longitudinal section of a fissure.

Fig 2.  A longitudinal section of a fissure.

Sealant flows into the crevices of teeth and "seals out" plaque and bacteria.  By creating a smoother surface in the chewing surfaces of the molars your child can even brush out the sticky foods more effectively (Fig 3 & 4).

 Fig 3.  Normal anatomy of a lower molar before sealant.

Fig 3.  Normal anatomy of a lower molar before sealant.

 Fig 4.  The molar above with sealant in place.

Fig 4.  The molar above with sealant in place.

 

HOW ARE SEALANTS APPLIED?

Application of sealants is a pain-free and quick procedure that is often performed during your child's routine exam and cleaning appointment.  It is also a procedure for which most insurances provide coverage, however, we can assist you in finding out more details on your particular plan benefits.

  • The tooth, often a molar or a premolar, is cleaned, conditioned and dried.
  • Sealant is applied with a tiny brush and allowed to flow into the irregularities of the tooth.
  • A special light is used to cure the sealant in a matter of seconds.

The entire procedure takes a minute or two for each tooth.  Your child will be able to eat and drink as normal immediately after the appointment.  For sealants to last for years, the integrity of margins of sealants is checked at your child's routine dental visits.  Due to normal everyday functions, such as brushing and chewing foods, sealants may be dislodged or damaged.  In such instances, new sealant may be applied to repair or replace the original sealant. 

"When a child receives sealants, they are 5.22 times less likely to experience caries on all surfaces than children that do not receive sealants. (Bravo and colleagues) Ongoing research continues to find this procedure effective, safe, and of a low enough cost that all populations can access this service. With the use of fluorides, regular dental evaluations, patient education, plaque control, reduction of sugar exposure, and the use of dental sealants, successive generations will have healthy, non-restored dentitions." ( Mary Ann Haisch, RDH, MPA)