All You Need to Know About the Dental Sealants Procedure

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We all know how important it is to follow good hygienic practices such as brushing twice per day, flossing once per day, and visiting the dentist regularly for dental cleanings. However, even the most diligent among us will have difficulty keeping the hard-to-reach places at the back of our mouth free from bacteria and food particles.

If we’re not careful about keeping this area as clean as possible, food particles can accumulate in the deep grooves and pits of our permanent molars and premolar teeth (bicuspids). These rough, uneven teeth are favourite places for leftover food and bacteria to hide and grow, leading to tooth decay and cavities.

Fortunately, your dentist can offer a defensive weapon to protect your teeth: dental sealants. 

How do dental sealants work?

Dental sealants are thin, clear coatings bonded to the tooth enamel of your molars and premolar teeth. Sealants keep dental decay from leftover food particles to a minimum and keep your teeth healthy.

There are two types of dental sealants available:

  • Filled sealant: These sealants are made from a blend of resins, chemicals, and fillers
  • Unfilled sealants: This type of sealant is mainly composed of resins with a little bit of filler

Dental sealants are very effective in helping to prevent tooth decay in children. However, they should not be considered substitutes for proper brushing, flossing, and eating healthy, tooth-friendly foods.

What are the benefits of dental sealants?

There are three significant benefits of sealants to keep your mouth as clean and healthy as possible:

  1. Sealants help protect against food particles: Dental sealants offer an added level of defence against leftover food particles that can stick to difficult-to-reach places. They also help you have a stronger enamel surface and protect teeth from decay. 
  2. Bacteria have no place to grow: Dental sealants minimize leftover food particle accumulation on the tooth surface, limiting the area in which bacteria can grow and harm our teeth.
  3. Protection for the most decay-prone teeth: Your molars and premolar teeth are where most people experience cavities. Applying dental sealants to these areas will drastically reduce your chances of getting cavities, especially if you follow good oral hygiene practices at home and visit your dentist twice per year for cleaning.

Who should get dental sealants?

Dental sealants are primarily used on school-age children who:

  • Are at a high risk to develop cavities in their baby teeth
  • Have deep grooves in their molars 
  • Eat a lot of processed foods and refined sugars and flours
  • Drink sugary beverages
  • Have special needs that provide challenges to following proper dental hygiene practices

In most cases, it’s best to place the sealants immediately after the eruption of the first molars, usually at around age 6. It’s also best to apply sealants sooner rather than later to protect these permanent teeth through the cavity-prone childhood/early adolescent years.

How to apply dental sealants

Your family dentist or dental hygienist can apply dental sealants to your child’s teeth in their office. The painless procedure can be completed in six easy steps:

  1. The dentist or dental hygienist will thoroughly clean and dry the tooth surface to prevent saliva or other contaminants from affecting the bond
  2. A type of etching gel, composed of a special acid solution, is applied to the teeth, creating a rough surface that helps the sealant bond to your teeth
  3. The gel is thoroughly rinsed from your teeth, and your tooth surfaces are dried once again
  4. Depending on the sealant material you choose, your dentist may use a thin bonding agent on your teeth
  5. The sealant is applied directly onto the chewing surface of each tooth
  6. A blue light or other special curing light may be used to help hasten the drying and bonding of the sealant

If any cavities or a decayed tooth is detected before the procedure, ideally the infection should be cleaned out before applying the dental sealants.

How long do dental sealants last?

Dental sealants can last from between 3 to 10 years, depending on the techniques used to apply them. Your dentist will check the condition of the bonds during your regular dental visits and reapply them as needed.  

The lifespan of the tooth sealants can be reduced if the patient:

Dental sealants may come off if you eat sticky, gummy, or chewy foods. They can also become stained if you consume high amounts of berries, coffee, teas, or red wine. You can help extend the life of your sealants by brushing with a soft-bristle toothbrush, using toothpaste that contains a remineralizing agent such as hydroxyapatite.

Can dental sealants be removed?

There may be reasons that your dentist will need to remove your sealants to correct a problem with your teeth or sealants, such as:

  • Sealant failure, such as chips or cracks
  • Removing poorly placed sealants
  • Resealing the tooth with a ceramic sealant for improved aesthetics 
  • Removal of decay that forms around the sealant 

A dental drill is used to carefully remove the dental sealant while protecting the healthy tooth structure. The sealant can then be reapplied, if necessary.

Dental sealants procedure in Toronto

If you’re wondering if the dental sealants procedure is best for your family, give Yonge-Eglinton Dental a call. We’ll be happy to answer all of your questions and give you the best advice for preserving and maintaining your beautiful smile!

Ask about our dental sealants procedure at Yonge Eglinton Dental in Toronto.

At Yonge Eglinton Dental, our dental team will work to help you have a glowing smile and healthy mouth that contributes to your overall well-being. Make an appointment today by calling our office at 416-932-2222 or booking online. We look forward to seeing you!

Are you concerned about visiting the dentist? Read about how we protect the health and safety of our patients and staff so your family can seek proper dental care with peace of mind.