Protecting your teeth—and your winning smile—is no easy task. There’s the twice-daily brushing and flossing, the antiseptic mouthwash, the semi-annual trips to the dentist’s office and the occasional whitening. But, even with the strictest dental care routine, there will still be some microscopic food particles that escape the bristles of your toothbrush and the watchful eye of your dentist. Those food scraps, tiny as they are, like to hide in the “hard to reach” places in your mouth.
The smooth surfaces of your teeth—the surfaces that you show to the camera every time you smile—are easy enough to clean. But the other surfaces of your teeth—the deep grooves and fissures of your molars, for example—are tough to clean and make for great hiding spots for food particles and cavity-causing bacteria.
With dental sealants, however, you can protect all of the surfaces of your teeth and keep your winning smile.
What Are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are thin coatings of protective materials that cover the occlusal (that’s dentist lingo for “chewing surfaces”) of your teeth.
There are different kinds of sealant materials that your dentist might use depending on your specific needs. Resin-based sealants are the most common but glass ionomer cement (GIC) is another option that you may want to ask your dentist about. Unlike resin-based dental sealants, GIC sealants release fluoride—an enamel-boosting compound that can help prevent tooth decay.
While some patients might have reservations about putting materials in their mouths that have the words “glass” or “resin” in them, the American Dental Association has stated that there is no evidence that these materials pose a threat to health. Unless, of course, you’re talking about the health of bacteria. Dental sealants pose a very serious threat to the health of cavity-causing bacteria.
How Do Dental Sealants Work?
The chewing surfaces of your teeth—particularly your molars and premolars—contain grooves, pits and fissures that are too small and narrow for at-home dental care tools to clean effectively.
Though it is possible to visit your dentist every day to get those grooves and fissures cleaned out, it would be more than just a little impractical. You could instead, just get dental sealants.
Dental sealants work by tightly covering those grooved and pitted surfaces to make them smoother and easier to clean with your regular toothbrush.
Do I Need Dental Sealants?
No one really “needs” dental sealants—they just have to be satisfied with a less than perfect smile and sub-optimal oral hygiene.
Since at least 2016, the American Dental Association has recommended dental sealants for both primary and permanent teeth. Not only has the ADA proven that sealants protect the chewing surfaces of molars and prevent cavities, they’ve also demonstrated that sealants can slow or halt the progression of existing cavities.
Ultimately, whether or not you would benefit from dental sealants is something that you would have to discuss with your dentist. Nevertheless, the evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of a little resin-based protective shield for your molars and premolars.
How Long Do Dental Sealants Last?
Like all good things, dental sealants too must come to an end. Once applied properly, however, dental sealants protect against tooth decay and cavities for anywhere between five to ten years. Considering the fact that sealants have to stand up against the almost continuous force of chewing and the acidic foods that we ate, they’re pretty durable.
How long your dental sealants last, exactly, will have a lot to do with what type of sealant you have. A 1994 study, for example, found that over the course of two years, GIC sealants lost more than 30% of their protective coating while resin-based sealants lost approximately 6% of their protectiveness. The study did mention, however, that GIC sealants offered a slow-release of fluoride that resin-based sealants did not.
Regardless of the material, your dentist will check your dental sealants every time you visit their office—you are visiting twice a year, aren’t you? If your sealants are significantly eroded, it’s easy enough to repair them by adding more sealant.
Visit Grundy Family Dental
Dental sealants are a safe and effective method for preventing tooth decay and cavities. However, when it comes to your oral health, there’s no substitute for regular flossing, brushing and rinsing. At Grundy Family Dental, we pride ourselves on offering our patients access to the very best protective and restorative dental treatments. Click here to learn more about our service offerings and to book your next appointment with us.