Tooth decay is a severe problem that could result in losing your natural tooth. It occurs when stuck food particles remain on a tooth, combining with the bacteria in the mouth to cause a buildup that eats away at the tooth's surface. Tooth decay starts as a small hole in the tooth that progresses with time. If left untreated, the bacteria could spread to the tooth's structure, causing an infection that affects the appearance and functionality of the tooth.
Dentists recommend dental sealants to protect a tooth from tooth decay. A sealant is a plastic coating the dentist can paint on the chewing part of your teeth to protect them against cavities. Dental sealants work best for the back teeth (the molars and the premolars). Once the dentist sprays the plastic coating on the teeth, it bonds into the grooves and depressions, creating a protective shield over them.
If you suspect that you are prone to tooth decay and seek a preventive treatment to safeguard your teeth and keep them strong and functional, it could be time to discuss dental sealants with your dentist. Our general dentists at Tayani Dental Group have the information you need to understand why you need dental sealants and how effective they are. Thus, you can count on our skills and experience for better oral health and improved well-being in Fullerton.
The Need for Dental Sealants
Dentists recommend brushing your teeth daily or after every meal to keep them clean and remove any remaining food particles in the mouth. You must also floss at least once daily to remove any food particles stuck between your teeth. These habits effectively prevent severe dental and oral issues, including cavities. But you must combine them with professional teeth cleaning to ensure you rid your teeth of any buildup that could cause cavities and other severe issues like gum disease.
Even people who practice these excellent oral habits are at risk of cavities. It is because some parts of your mouth are hard to reach with regular brushing and flossing. There is usually no guarantee that your mouth is free of stuck food particles, even if you brush and floss daily as recommended. If you keep up with your daily routine but neglect regular visits to the dentist for checkups and professional cleanings, your teeth could still develop cavities. Consider wearing dental sealants to protect your teeth from cavities and keep them strong and healthy.
Dental sealants are mostly recommended for teenagers and children. It is because their teeth are at a higher risk of cavities. Children do not clean and floss their teeth as carefully as adults. They likely leave some parts of their mouth unclean, which are possible breeding grounds for the dangerous bacteria. Teenagers are also at a higher risk of cavities than adults. However, adults can also benefit from dental sealants to protect their teeth. Thus, you can consult your dentist about dental sealants for your children or yourself. If you do not have cavities yet and do not have fillings on any of your back teeth, you can add a layer of protection to your teeth using sealants.
If your child’s molars and premolars require protection from cavities, your dentist can apply dental sealants to their teeth immediately after their permanent molars, and premolars come out. That way, their teeth will be safe when they are at a higher risk of cavities (between the ages of six and fourteen). In some cases, a dentist can recommend sealants for baby teeth. If your child’s teeth have grooves and depressions, they can easily trap food particles, resulting in cavities.
Remember that baby teeth are crucial in determining how a child’s permanent teeth will develop. That is why it is necessary to keep them strong and healthy. Cavities will result in the loss of affected baby teeth, leaving the child without a solid structure from which their permanent teeth will develop.
Dental Sealant Application Process
Manufacturers of dental sealants use various materials to create a seal that can keep your teeth safe from cavities for a long time. Some sealants are made from resin, which can be synthetic or plant-based. Others are made from glass ionomers (a combination of glass powder with water-soluble acids). The manufacturer aims to create a seal that will provide adequate protection for the teeth without interfering with their appearance or functionality.
Once the sealant is in place, your teeth will be safe from the dangerous bacteria responsible for cavities and other dental issues like periodontal disease. Dentists often use sealants on the back teeth since they have more grooves and depressions than the front teeth. These depressions trap food particles and sugary beverages, which, when combined with the bacteria in the mouth, cause an acidic reaction that causes buildup and, eventually, cavities. Dental sealants coat the surfaces of the back teeth so that dangerous bacteria cannot reach them.
The application process starts with a quick examination of your teeth for any signs of cavities. Your dentist will not seal your back teeth if they already have cavities. They will first treat the cavity and seal the teeth to prevent further infection. If your teeth are ready for sealants, your dentist will start by cleaning them professionally to remove any stuck food particles and buildup that could cause infections even after sealing them.
The application process is simple, painless, and less invasive. Once your teeth are ready and clean, your dentist will only take a few minutes to complete the treatment. Your dentist or a hygienist can handle the application process. Here are some of the steps you can expect during the treatment process:
- Professional cleaning ensures that your teeth are thoroughly cleaned before they are sealed. Remember that dental sealants will not work if your teeth are unclean or have buildup that can encourage bacterial growth. Your dentist will clean each tooth and the hard-to-reach areas in your mouth.
- Professional drying of each tooth using cotton or another absorbent material that can keep the teeth dry.
- Application of an acid material on the chewing part of your teeth to roughen those parts and ensure that the sealant bonds well with the teeth.
- Rinsing and drying of the teeth once more to remove the excess acid material from your mouth.
- Painting the sealant on each tooth's enamel carefully ensures that it bonds directly and hardens on the tooth. Your dentist will ensure that the chewing part of each tooth is well covered with the sealant material. They can use a curing light to ensure the sealant hardens on the tooth surface.
There is not much you can do to prepare for this treatment process. Your dentist can place a sealant on your teeth during your regular visits to their office. The only time the dentist could require you to wait is if you have an oral or dental problem that requires treatment before filling. For example, if one or more of your teeth already have cavities, your dentist can begin by cleaning and filling the cavities before applying the sealant to protect the teeth from further attack. Also, professional teeth cleaning before using the sealant material is necessary to ensure that no food particles are trapped between the sealant and your teeth that could cause cavities on sealed teeth.
Once your teeth are sealed, you can enjoy protection for ten years. But you must visit your dentist regularly for routine checkups and to ensure that your sealants are always in good condition. The sealant material can chip or wear out. If that happens, your dentist will recommend immediate replacement to continue the protection of your teeth.
The Benefits of Dental Sealants
Daily brushing and flossing are insufficient to keep your teeth safe from cavities. Some areas in the mouth could be easier to reach with the brush. These nooks and crannies are the breeding grounds for the dangerous bacteria that cause cavities. Once the bacteria spreads to your mouth it can quickly affect your teeth and gums. Sealants are very effective in shielding areas vulnerable to bacterial infection from cavities. The sealant removes the dangerous bacteria, plaque, and food particles from the protected areas.
Cavities are severe dental issues that affect thousands of people. The typical symptom is excruciating pain that could make eating, drinking, or speaking impossible. Once your tooth develops a cavity, it is advisable to treat it immediately. Ignoring a cavity could result in difficulties when talking, eating, learning, or playing. Untreated cavities result in abscesses or severe infection of the tooth, affecting even the tooth’s structure.
Treating a severe cavity is expensive. If the tooth’ structure becomes infected, you could need an invasive and costly root canal. The infection on a tooth with a cavity can spread to other parts of your body, resulting in a severe infection that can be fatal. A severely infected tooth could also necessitate extraction. Dental sealants protect you from all that and more. You can save yourself or your child from the risk of cavities and their severe consequences by having your teeth sealed as soon as possible. Children with their teeth sealed early in life live without worrying about cavities.
The Disadvantages of Dental Sealants
Typically, the benefits of dental sealants outweigh their disadvantages. But there are some essential things you should note before having your teeth sealed:
- You will not enjoy lifetime protection against cavities with dental sealants. The maximum period you could enjoy them for is five years. They can chip along the way or wear out. Thus, you must have them replaced every few years for continued protection. If you factor in the cost, it could be expensive for you.
- Dentists do not apply dental sealants to already affected teeth. If your teeth have cavities, you will need treatment before the sealant. Some dentists will not seal teeth with dental fillings.
- If the application process is not carefully done, and some parts of your teeth are not covered well, the teeth could still be at risk of cavities. If food particles find their way past the sealant to the tooth, and you cannot remove them through regular brushing and flossing, the chances of having a cavity on that tooth are high.
Because of those disadvantages, speaking to a skilled general dentist about the effectiveness of dental sealants as a preventive measure for cavities is necessary. That will help you make an informed decision for yourself or your children.
Taking Care of Your Sealants
Dental sealants bond quickly with the teeth after application. Your dentist can use a curing light to speed up the drying process and ensure your teeth are well-protected when you leave their office. Thus, you do not need to give them time to cure. You can return to your daily activities immediately after the procedure.
You should also be able to eat right after the application. But be careful with what you eat and drink immediately after your appointment. For example, you could avoid chewy, sticky, and hard foods, which can quickly erode or damage your sealants. It is necessary to start with soft foods, then introduce your regular foods in moderation. The last thing you want is to return to your dentist a few days, weeks, or months later for a fresh application.
You could also avoid habits that damage your sealants, like chewing ice and grinding your teeth. These will cause your sealants to wear out more quickly than they should.
When To See Your Dentist After Dental Sealants
If your dentist is skilled and experienced, you should be able to enjoy a few years of absolute protection against cavities. Then, you will not need to visit your dentist’s office until your next appointment. Dentists recommend regular dentist visits for routine checkups, professional cleaning, and preventive treatment. That will be the ideal time to see your dentist after dental sealants.
During that visit, your dentist will conduct a routine checkup for your teeth, gums, and jawbone. They will also have a hygienist check the health of your gums and teeth and recommend treatment for any issues they find. That will be the best time to have the dentist examine your sealants. You can also ask any questions or raise any concerns regarding the sealants. If your dentist notices a problem with your sealants, they will act quickly before your teeth’s protection against cavities is compromised.
But if you notice a problem with your sealant, teeth, or gums before your next appointment for a routine checkup, it is advisable to visit your dentist’s office immediately. Do not ignore any oral or dental health concern; it can quickly escalate into a significant issue that could impact your overall well-being. For example, you should not miss a toothache, however slight it could be. Contact your dentist immediately if you notice bad breath, bleeding gums, or any other worrying symptom or sign.
The Cost of Dental Sealants
Dental sealants are costly. You could pay up to $40 per tooth whenever you need protection from cavities. Some dentists charge more, and others charge less. The cost is an essential factor to consider when making the final decision. Fortunately, some insurance companies cover the cost, though primarily for minors. Determining if your insurance provider will pay for the procedure is necessary before making the final decision. If you need sealants for your children or teenagers, the total cost will be covered if you have medical insurance.
But it is crucial to consider the likely cost of treatment if you do not protect your teeth against cavities. Remember that you could be at risk of cavities even if you faithfully practice good oral hygiene. More than regular brushing and flossing is required since you do not reach the nooks and crannies in your teeth, especially in your back teeth.
If your tooth develops a cavity, the cost of a dental filling is higher when compared to dental sealants. Having a filling does not guarantee protection from further attack by dangerous bacteria. If the tooth is severely damaged, you could lose it. After that, you will have to pay for a dental restoration, which is way more expensive. If the infection spreads to the tooth structure, you could need root canal treatment, which is costly and invasive.
Typically, dental sealants are more affordable when considering the cost of treatment if your teeth develop cavities. Sealants do not guarantee absolute protection, but they minimize your chances of developing cavities.
Find a Skilled Fullerton Dentist Near Me
Are you worried about dental cavities and want to protect your or a loved one’s teeth against them?
A skilled general dentist will recommend dental sealants. They provide additional protection against the harmful bacteria that cause cavities. Even though they do not last a lifetime, dental sealants are very effective in keeping your teeth safe, strong, and healthy.
Speaking to an experienced general dentist is advisable to understand how sealants work, their advantages and disadvantages, and if you are an ideal candidate. If you need help and guidance with dental sealants in Fullerton, we could assist you at Tayani Dental Group. Our team of skilled and experienced dentists uses state-of-the-art tools and equipment to offer quality, reliable, and affordable dental services for the entire family. Call us at 949-741-0795 to learn more.