Sealants fill in the crevices of your teeth, preventing food and bacteria from lingering there and wreaking havoc. These crevices, or fissures, make it easy for particles to get trapped, and these particles, particularly plaque, constantly erode the mineral shield around your teeth until they get to the enamel and dentine underneath. By sealing these fissures, you’ll be less likely to develop cavities.
Reasons for Sealants
In order to prevent tooth decay, dentists sometimes recommend getting a sealant on your teeth. Dental sealants, also called fissure sealants, are used to seal up small gaps and grooves in teeth, which are most vulnerable to tooth decay. The back teeth have grooves or fissures, giving them a rougher surface for chewing food. In these fissures, the enamel can wear down more easily and it’s harder to restore the lost minerals in the teeth here. Regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste can restore some of the minerals lost, but repeated consumption of fermentable carbohydrates and infrequent cleaning can be detrimental. If these fissures get worn down too much, cavities will start to form and the tooth will decay more rapidly. Once a cavity appears, dental restoration will become necessary, including fillings, crowns, or dentures.
Types of Sealants
Resin based sealants are the most common type of sealant. The resin is chemically cured or visible light cured (to keep them clean before implanting them) and the latest generations contain fluoride to aid in remineralizing the teeth. Glass ionomer sealants are cleaned with a polyacrylic acid conditioner, then placed in the grooves of the teeth. The conditioner causes the material to bond to the enamel and dentine of the teeth.
As long as the sealant remains in place, it should prevent caries (when there is more mineral loss than gain for your teeth) from forming. Under controlled circumstances with professional supervision, the sealant should be effectively placed without risk of coming out. Typically, a sealant will remain effective for at least five years, even while enduring the rigors of eating and drinking. They will wear out over time, but you can continue to prevent caries through regular brushing, rinsing, and cleanings.