Everyone has plaque bacteria in their mouth, and these form a thin layer over the surface of the tooth. Every time we eat something, the plaque bacteria feed off the excess food particles, creating acid which attacks the tooth enamel. The tooth enamel becomes softer and softer, eventually allowing the tooth to become decayed. One of the most common sites for tooth decay is in the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. The reason for this is that these teeth contain lots of little fissures that can make them very tricky to clean thoroughly, and as they’re commonly used to chew, they are constantly coming into contact with food. Dental sealants are used to protect these chewing surfaces of the back teeth from dental decay by literally sealing the tooth, preventing decay from occurring.
The sealants are made out of a special type of plastic that protects the teeth from plaque bacteria. Dental sealants have been around for a good many years and have found to be extremely effective in fighting tooth decay. It’s something that is generally offered to children and young adults, as dental sealants can only be used on healthy teeth that haven’t yet had any fillings. However it something that is also suitable for any adult whose back teeth haven’t been filled. Your dentist may also choose to use it on teeth that are only just showing signs of decay as there’s some evidence that sealing in the bacteria that cause the decay can halt the process, protecting the tooth against needing a filling.
Applying the dental sealant is a very straightforward process. The first step is for your dentist to thoroughly clean the teeth and to prepare them to receive the sealant. The sealant is then applied to the chewing surfaces where it bonds with the tooth enamel. The final step is to harden the sealant using a special light.
Your dentist will check the dental sealants at every appointment, but you should find they last a considerable number of years before they need replacing. The exact interval will depend on individual habits, as someone who grind their teeth or who has a very heavy bite will need to have their dental sealants replaced more frequently. The sealants only protect the chewing surfaces of teeth, and anyone who has this treatment will still need to take good care of their teeth through brushing and flossing regularly. If you have a child or teenager then it’s highly likely your dentist will have already suggested this treatment, but if they haven’t then it’s well worth asking them if it’s something they’d recommend.
For more information on dental sealants, or if you are experiencing any dental issues, contact your Jackson, MS dentist, Dr. Jim Ed Watson today.