What exactly is tooth decay?
Tooth decay, which is also called dental cavities or dental caries, is the destruction of the outer surface (enamel) of a tooth. Decay results from the action of bacteria that live in plaque, which is a sticky, whitish film formed by a protein in saliva and sugary substances in the mouth. The plaque bacteria sticking to tooth enamel use the sugar and starch from food particles in the mouth to produce acid.   Even though we now offer all-white options to fix cavities, the best fix for a cavity is to prevent one from ever starting.

 

What is a dental sealant?
Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. But toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. This sealant for teeth block food from getting embedded in these vulnerable areas by.  Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to protect them from tooth decay.  Our office only uses BPA-Free Sealants made here in the USA (Provo UT).   Most tooth decay in children and teens occurs on these surfaces.  This covering , or sealant for teeth cover and protect the chewing surfaces from tooth decay by keeping germs and food particles out of these grooves.  Permanent molars are the most likely to benefit from sealants. The first molars usually come into the mouth when a child is about 6 years old. Second molars appear at about age 12.    It is best if the sealant is applied soon after the teeth have erupted, before they have a chance to decay.

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Sealants can only be seen up close. Sealants can be clear, white, or slightly tinted, and usually are not seen when a child talks or smiles.
As with anything new that is placed in the mouth, a child may feel the sealant with the tongue. Sealants, however, are very thin and only fill the pits and grooves of molar teeth

 

When should sealants be placed?
Because of the likelihood of developing decay in the depressions and grooves of the premolars and molars, children and teenagers are candidates for sealants. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.  Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14.  In some rare cases, dental sealants may also be appropriate for baby teeth, such as when a child’s baby teeth have deep depressions and grooves.  Because this covering or sealant for teeth tends to lightly wear over time, it is very important to have them checked regularly during dental checkups here at Kona Kids.

Process involved in sealants?
The dentist, dental hygienist or assistant first cleans and dries the tooth to be treated, then applies a slightly acidic solution on the tooth to create a rough surface that helps the sealant bond, and finally paints a thin layer of liquid plastic material on the pits and fissures of the tooth. After application of the plastic liquid, blue spectrum natural light is shone on the applied material for a few seconds to cure the plastic. Alternatively, some brands of sealants self-cure via a chemical process.  After curing, the BPA-free plastic (sealant for teeth) becomes a hard, thin layer covering the treated portions of the tooth. Despite the heavy pressures effected on teeth during chewing each day, dental sealants may remain effective for five years or longer, although sealants do wear naturally and may become damaged over time. Bacteria and food particles may eventually become entrapped under the dental sealants, and can thus cause decay in the very teeth intended to be protected.  Applying sealant is a simple and painless process. It takes only a few moments for the dentist, hygienist, or assistant to apply the sealant to seal each tooth.

sealantspic1This is how a sealant is placed:

1. First the teeth that are to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned.
2. Each tooth is then dried, and cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry.
3. An acidic solution is put on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to clean and prepare the enamel which helps the sealant bond to the teeth.
4. The teeth are then rinsed with sterile water and then dried with air.
5. Sealant is then painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. A special blue curing light is used to harden the sealant.

 

 

How Long Do Sealants Last?
This preventative sealant for teeth can stop decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wearing at regular dental check-ups. Here at Kona Kids, we repair sealants free of charge for as long as your child visits us for checkups.  (We see ‘kids’ up to age 26)

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If you have any questions about sealants , please do not hesitate to contact us here that the office to speak with any of our doctors or other dental professionals on our Kona Kids team.