To protect against cavities, a family dentist may recommend getting dental sealants. Tooth decay remains one of the most common conditions among children in the United States, which makes it a cause for concern for parents. Regular brushing, flossing and dental appointments are effective for preventing cavities. However, these preventative measures are sometimes not enough to prevent cavities from occurring on the molars, which is why dental sealants may be recommended.
Dental sealants are thin layers of plastic material painted over the chewing surfaces of the molars. The plastic layer over the tooth stops plaque from building up in the deep grooves of the molars, an area often plagued by cavities. The process of applying dental sealants is as follows:
Cleaning the tooth:
The dentist will first clean the tooth thoroughly; else, the sealant will not adhere to the teeth properly. The process can entail using a spinning brush to scrub the tooth’s surface and clean the crevices and pits. It is common practice to use a slurry of pumice to ensure full cleaning.
Conditioning the tooth
After cleaning the tooth, the dentist will condition the tooth by applying an “etching” gel over the tooth surface. They will spread the etchant over the tooth grooves and surrounding area, after which it will be allowed to stay for about 20 to 60 seconds before washing it off. The etchant prepares the tooth surface to ensure a strong bond between the dental sealant and the tooth.
Applying the dental sealants
When the teeth are fully dry, the dentist will apply the dental sealants over the chewing surfaces of the molars and, sometimes, the premolars. This process can be completed using a small brush or by squirting it from a syringe. Since the sealant is in liquid form, it is spread into the nooks and crannies of the groove. Dental sealants are not used to fill the entire chewing surface of the tooth, instead, they are used only for the sides and the chewing surfaces with pits and fissures that tend to trap and store debris.
Curing the dental sealants
When the liquid dental sealants have been evenly spread over the teeth, the family dentist accelerates the hardening process using a ‘curing’ light in the form of a dental flashlight or wand-like device that emits blue light. The light is necessary for the process because the material used for the dental sealants are formulated with a catalyst that becomes activated using this light.
This means that the dental sealants will not harden until the family dentist is sure it is spread evenly and adequately over the entire surface of the teeth. Once they are satisfied, setting dental sealant with the light only takes about 60 seconds. After curing, the dentist will examine the children's bite to ensure it aligns properly. The teeth are ready for use once the sealant hardens.
Parents need to guide their children on the importance of oral hygiene. Dental sealants can protect their molars and premolars from cavities, but they still need to clean their teeth regularly. To get started with the dental sealant process, contact the dental office for an appointment.
Request an appointment here: https://familydentistphoenix.com or call Phoenix Family Dentistry at (602) 547-9007 for an appointment in our Phoenix office.