Brushing and flossing your teeth are essential daily habits for preventing tooth decay and gum disease. However, even with doing both every single day, some areas of your mouth are more difficult to clean than others and can be missed. When they are frequently missed, your risk for issues, such as cavities, increases. One of the areas of your mouth prone to cavities is the chewing surfaces of your molars. These areas contain deep grooves and depressions where food can get stuck, creating an ideal habitat for bacteria. At Kenneth G. Wallis, DDS, Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, we can help to protect these areas of your mouth with sealants.
How Do Cavities Happen?
Cavities form as a result of tooth decay. Decay is caused by the oral bacteria that live in your mouth. These bacteria eat the food particles and sugars that linger in your mouth after eating. As they eat, they produce acids. If your teeth are not properly taken care of, the acids begin to eat away at the enamel of your teeth. Eventually, small pits called cavities form, creating hiding spaces for bacteria. Untreated, the cavities continue to grow, and can even reach the inner layer of your teeth, which can cause a serious infection.
What Are Sealants?
Sealants are a synthetic application, made up of plastic and other materials, that is applied to the chewing surfaces of your molars. Their job is to cover the deep grooves and depressions on these surfaces, preventing food and bacteria from becoming stuck. This makes keeping your molars clean easier and protects them from developing cavities.
How Sealants Are Applied
The procedure for sealants is simple, and completely pain-free, taking only a single visit to apply. We start by thoroughly cleaning and drying your molars. Next, we apply a light acidic gel to the chewing surfaces of your molars, which works to create a rough texture. This texture will help the sealants to better adhere to your teeth. The gel is cleaned off, and your teeth dried again. Finally, we paint on the sealant material and dry it with a blue light.
Who Gets Sealants?
Typically, sealants are associated with kids. Because kids are more prone to cavities (they have a harder time keeping their teeth clean), sealants are usually applied early on. They may even be applied to baby teeth. However, kids are not the only ones who can benefit. Sealants can be used for anyone of any age. They provide you with an extra layer of prevention against harmful oral bacteria and cavities.
How Long Do Sealants Last?
Sealants are relatively strong, despite being made up of plastic. They can withstand normal wear and tear and can last several years. During your routine cleanings and exams, we will check the condition of your sealants, making sure that they are still intact. Should they be damaged, they are easily reapplied.
Taking Care of Your Mouth
While sealants protect the chewing surfaces of your molars, they cannot stop decay and cavities in other areas of your teeth. It is important that you continue to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. You should also maintain twice-yearly cleanings and exams. With proper oral care, you can optimize the health of your mouth.
Sealants provide you with an extra preventative measure to protect your teeth against cavities. For more information, call Kenneth G. Wallis, DDS, Family and Cosmetic Dentistry today at (408) 248-6777.