Something to Chew On
The Benefits of Dental Sealants

According to the CDC, almost 70 percent of American's are affected by dental decay by the age of 19. Left untreated tooth decay or cavities can result in pain, infection and tooth loss.

Sealants are a highly effective option to help prevent the on set of decay. Dental sealants have been proven safe and cost-efficient. The dental procedure is painless, and when preformed correctly can be one of the best preventive actions taken for a child's dental health. Even healthcare forces are seeing the benefits of dental sealants, and providing school-based programs to children in need of dental hygiene instruction and prevention.

Sealants are a thin plastic coating applied to the tiny grooves on the chewing surface of molars. Most tooth decay in children occurs here. Sealants protect the tooth surface from decay and from keeping bacteria, and food out of the tiny grooves of the teeth.

Studies show that children are the best candidates for dental sealants. Parents should consider sealants as a preventive measure in their child's oral health. The majority of cavities occur in the pits and grooves of a child's newly erupted teeth. Food particles and bacteria are not easily cleaned out of these areas.

Dental sealants act as a protective barrier to seal space between the tooth surface and bacteria or food particles, that would other wise cause a cavity in an unsealed tooth. Combined with brushing twice and day, using fluoride, a healthy diet and visiting the dentist twice a year properly applied dental sealants are 100 percent effective in preventing cavities.

Remember that dental sealants protect the tooth surface, not the gums. A dental sealant will not protect against gingivitis, periodontal disease, oral cancer or other common dental conditions.

Placing sealants is a simple and painless procedure. The dentist will clean and dry the surface of the tooth before placing the sealant. During the placement of sealants the dentist will ensure that surface of the tooth remains dry and free of bacteria. An acidic solution is applied to the tooth to create a rough surface that increases the surface area for a better hold of the sealant being placed. A thin layer of liquid plastic material is painted into the pits and grooves of the tooth. After the plastic is applied, a blue light is shone on the material for a few seconds to cure and set the plastic. After the plastic is cured the plastic becomes a hard, thin layer protecting the surface of the tooth.

Sealants do wear naturally. Despite the heavy pressures from chewing they have the potential to remain very effective for seven years or more if properly cared for.

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