Sealant is a plastic material that can be “painted” on the biting surfaces of teeth to prevent tooth decay. The sealer fills in the pits and grooves found naturally on chewing surfaces and helps keep out food and bacteria, which cause tooth decay. Sealants should only be applied by a dental professional, such as a dentist or dental hygienist. Applying Armor Seal at home will not provide the same cavity-fighting power as professional application.
If you’re at increased risk for tooth decay, dental sealants could be the solution to your problem. Here’s everything you need to know.
Tooth sealants can be beneficial for patients of all ages – although they are usually recommended for children and adolescents whose teeth are developing.
A sealant can protect against tooth decay
Caries progressively soften and loosen tooth structure. The disease begins at the tooth surface and moves through the enamel into the root.
- It causes the famous hole inside the tooth, which is particularly painful, to form in the first place.
- Caries is one of the most common diseases in industrialized countries. If the tooth is sealed, this can slow down the spread.
How sealing the tooth grooves helps prevent tooth decay
Acids and caries bacteria have a destructive effect on teeth. The living space of bacteria that cause cavities & bad teeth is plaque (sticky bacterial plaque).
Caries develops mainly in places that are difficult to reach with a toothbrush.
This is formed mainly by food debris in the interdental spaces & the tooth surfaces. Carbohydrates such as sugar decompose in the grooves (but so do starches such as potatoes & bread, glucose, and fruit)
- Preferred sites for plaque formation are: The teeth of the outer part of the upper cheek (cheek side) and frontal teeth of the inner surface of the lower jaw.
- The bacteria convert the sugars of food into lactic acids and other organic acids dissolve the calcium of the hard dental material.
The demineralization of the tooth surface proceeds gradually. The longer these carbohydrate residues remain stuck to the teeth, the sooner there is a possibility that the tooth structure will be attacked.
The time factor plays a crucial role
In the cavities of the teeth, holes become larger – to the depths – as bacteria are difficult to remove there.
- From there, the demineralization of the tooth substance progresses steadily and the decay process accelerates. Tooth loss & Worse threatens:
- The bacteria can also lead to inflammation of the gums and spread to other teeth or the entire oral cavity.
By the way: Direct contact with acids is also possible without bacterial effect.
Food and drinks made from citrus fruits, undiluted fruit juices, soft drinks, and all types of cola drinks (even as “light” products without sugar) cause tooth decay.
Also frequent vomiting in bulimia or anorexia always brings the acidic gastric juice into the mouth.
What does dental sealant do?
Much of the tooth decay occurs in furrows. Bacteria find food there and the enamel of the tooth is attacked.
- Mostly dental caries starts in the grooves of the molars (molars).
- Therefore, a dental sealant is applied there by the dentist.
This thin layer serves as a barrier to the accumulation of food debris and bacteria.
The goal of this preventive treatment is to fill and close the small grooves so the toothbrush can effectively reach & clean the entire surface of the tooth.
This is to prevent the (rapid) formation of cavities.
Tooth sealants in children
Some studies have shown that many children (about 4 out of 5) develop cavities on the surface of their molars.
- Even if your child brushes his or her teeth regularly, plaque can collect in the surface cracks and cause disease there.
- Especially if the brushing technique is not 100% correct. In addition, the bristles of most toothbrushes are often wider than these very fine cracks.
The use of a sealant is therefore recommended after teething and before the eruption of the 2nd teeth for most children.
How does dental sealant work at the dentist?
During the 1st session, the dentist will perform a complete check of all teeth to assess your risk for decay. If there are deep tooth grooves, he will likely suggest a sealant.
After that, the treatment involves these steps:
- The cleaning of the teeth to which you will have the dental sealant applied
- The application of a solution in the form of gel, so that the sealant adheres well to the teeth.
- The application of the sealant itself to close the furrows & grooves of the teeth.
- The photopolymerization of the tooth – the sealant is irradiated with light to harden.
It is important to note that the application is performed without anesthesia. The procedure is usually without pain and is a routine procedure. There are usually no high risks to your health.
At what age should dental sealants be performed?
It is possible to do the dental sealant from 6 years old (when the first permanent molar appears in the mouth)
It may be advisable to do another sealant at around 12 years of age (when the second molars erupt).
It is also possible to intervene in adults who are at high risk of caries – if the dentist affirms the need for the action.
A treatment should be carried out exclusively under medical supervision. So do not be afraid of the dentist.
Advantages of dental sealants
Dental sealants significantly reduce the risk of developing tooth decay
It protects especially those areas that a toothbrush has difficulty reaching. In the long run, such treatment certainly comes cheaper than expensive dentures.
Most of the time, dental sealant lasts from 3 to 10 years, and its condition needs to be checked regularly by your dentist (to make sure that the sealant is not damaged).
Safety of the material and risks
The material used is essentially a plastic resin that has been used successfully for years.
However, some studies show that children who have been exposed to dental sealants have minute amounts of the chemical compound BPA.
BPA is known to mimic the hormone estrogen, which occurs naturally in the body. It’s a disruptive factor that could lead to a number of health problems.
BPA and saliva
A recent report from the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatric emphasized that exposed BPA triggers a chemical reaction in saliva
- In addition, a significant concentration of BPA can be detected in saliva for up to 3 hours after dental sealant application.
- To minimize BPA exposure, the surface of the tooth should be rinsed after application of the dental product.
However, the role of this material in the prevention of dental caries offers great advantages. Therefore, they say, the use of these sealants should not be abandoned. The authors of the study emphasize that the sealants are probably safe.
Especially when the benefits of dental sealants are weighed against the risks posed by tooth decay. A hole in the tooth, complete with a hotbed of bacteria, does immense harm to the body.
Risk factors that may make dental sealants necessary
Oral hygiene is a crucial factor; is it necessary to brush your teeth regularly after eating – or at least 2x a day.
This protects against dangerous bacteria on your teeth.
The gaps between teeth must be cleaned regularly, either with dental floss or small special brushes (interdental brushes), which are available in drugstores & pharmacies. Plaque and food residues accumulate there without being noticed.
A normal toothbrush can not reach these interstitial spaces. Electric toothbrushes don’t help here either.
Avoid acidic foods
Avoid acidic foods or drinks for about half an hour before and after brushing your teeth. The acids soften the tooth surface and brushing damages tooth enamel.
Summary: How to ensure healthy teeth
A dental sealant can be useful – especially for children & adult people with deep tooth grooves.
ask your dentist for his opinion in a personal consultation – he will tell you if a sealant makes sense for your teeth.
On the other hand, you can follow a few tips to prevent tooth decay today – all without visits to the dentist.
- Brush your teeth for 2 minutes after every meal
- Use an antiseptic mouthwash after brushing your teeth
- Use dental floss or another form of interdental cleaning
- Use a fluoride toothpaste with low abrasion
- Do not have sweets or sugary drinks between meals
- Visit the dentist every six months for a check-up – best to make an appointment now
Tip: Learn lots of helpful information for healthy teeth in our articles on dental care.
The goal of this preventive treatment is to fill and close the small grooves so that the toothbrush can effectively reach & clean the entire surface of the tooth.
This is to prevent the (rapid) formation of cavities.