The best way to fight cavities is to brush and floss regularly, but sometimes it can be tough to clean the entire surface of your teeth. This is especially true in the case of our molars, which reside in the deep depths of the mouth and act as a haven for bacteria and leftover food. Thankfully, dentists offer sealants, which are thin, plastic coatings that are applied to your teeth where they prevent cavities and even stop early stages of decay.
When leftover food meets the bacteria in your mouth, acids are produced. These acids can create holes in your teeth, which we call cavities. Sealants work by preventing food from getting stuck in those hard-to-reach spots while also keeping bacteria and acid off the surface of your teeth.
Considering that most people get their first molars around six years of age, the earlier sealants are applied, the better. By sealing your molars at an early age, they could remain cavity-free right from the beginning. And though you might think of them as an expense, sealants are more like an investment. After all, cavity-free teeth mean less money spent in the long-run.
The application process for sealants is rather simple. First, the dentist will clean the teeth on which the sealant will be placed. Then, after the surface is dry, he or she will administer an acidic gel, which forms a strong and durable bond between the sealant and teeth to which it is being applied. After a quick rinse-and-dry, the dentist will apply the sealant and harden it with a special blue light.
Once sealants are placed, they can last several years before a dentist will need to reapply them.
It is important to remember that sealants are not an alternative to brushing your teeth. They simply prevent cavities. In order to maintain healthy teeth, you will still have to brush and floss daily. However, if you discover that brushing and flossing aren’t enough to keep your teeth cavity-free, be sure to mention sealants to your dentist during your next visit.