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A dental sealant is a thin plastic coating applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of healthy, decay-free teeth. Sealants create a physical barrier that literally “seals out” the food and bacteria that cause tooth decay. Properly applied, sealants are 100% effective at preventing tooth decay.
Eventually, 95% of people develop one or more cavities. Sealants are most often used on the back teeth, which are the teeth at most risk for decay and cavities. These teeth have deep grooves that are too narrow to be reached by toothbrush bristles. Because these grooves and fissures are difficult to clean, food and bacteria can become trapped there. Although fluoride is a great tool in the arsenal against tooth decay, it only works on the smooth surfaces of the teeth. In order to protect the grooves of the teeth, sealants are most effective.
Sealants are very cost effective way to maintain dental health. Sealant protection for one tooth typically costs less than a traditional amalgam (silver) filling costs and just a fraction of the cost of a root canal or crown restoration. The protection provided by sealants usually lasts for many years.
Not just for children…
Both children and adults can benefit from the added protection sealants provide. Children benefit greatly from sealants for several reasons. The enamel on a newly erupted tooth takes a full three years to mature. This leaves young teeth especially vulnerable to decay. Children also sometimes have difficulty maintaining good dental hygiene. However, it is never too late for sealants – adults are also at risk for tooth decay and should consider sealants, especially when they have risk factors for cavities.
Contact us if you have any questions about sealants or to schedule an oral health consultation with Dr. Cardenas.